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A number of factors may influence Web users' choice of which links to follow. These include assumptions about document quality and anticipated retrieval times. The present generation of World Wide Web browsers, however, provide only minimal support to assist users in making informed decisions. Web browser `link user interfaces' typically only display a document's Universal Resource Locator (URL), whilst a simple binary colour change in the URL's anchor is used to indicate its activation history. The question then is, how do users deal with the problem of having to make such decisions when the information at hand is insufficient?

We have been conducting an investigation of how users make link selections. The results show users often are forced to fall back on heuristics and improvising strategies drawn from past experience. Based upon these results, we present a prototype of the `link lens', an enhanced link user interface designed to make such decisions easier and more productive for all users and help less experienced ones gain a better understanding of Web behaviour.

\begin{keyword}usability; user interfaces; quality of service; download delays


Rob Procter