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information foraging

Information foraging uses the analogy of wild animals gathering food to analyse how humans collect information online. This theoretical framework can be used to critique web design and improve user interaction.

Key dimensions to this analogy include:

Information scent: Predicting a path’s success
  • Does your page navigation signal to the user that they have reached, or are nearing their goal?
  • Does the destination page meet the expectations set by the navigation?
Diet selection: What to eat
  • Does your site provide ‘nutritious’ information?
  • How easily can a user find and use this information?
Patch selection: When to hunt elsewhere
Does your site address a user’s immediate needs?

The term information foraging was coined by the Palo Alto Research Center (previously Xerox PARC) by Stuart Card, Peter Pirolli, and colleagues as the result of human-computer interaction research.

Source: Information Foraging: Why Google Makes People Leave Your Site Faster (

Related terms: call to action, information architecture, navigation.


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