Enhancing Web 2.0 Usability: Handling the Local Contexts of Web Users

  • Mohanad Al-Jabari

Student thesis: Doc typesDoctor of Sciences


In less than two decades, the World Wide Web has grown into one of the most popular channels that provide information about most aspects of the life (e.g., economic, education, political, etc.). For example, Web users from around the world can browse the Web for reading news, purchasing products, registering online courses, forecasting weather, etc. (referred to them as Web Readers). Recently, the emergence of Web 2.0 has revolutionized the way information is designed and accessed over the Web. Web 2.0 sites enable Web users not only browsing the Web but also creating and updating Web contents. Hence, they can act as active Web authors. In addition, Web 2.0 sites/services can aggregate Web contents from several sites and display them together in a single Web page. However, Web users originate from different communities and they implicitly follow their own semantics (refereed to as local contexts) to represent and interpret Web contents. As a consequence, the same real world concepts might be represented and interpreted in different ways by different Web authors and readers. Such concepts are referred to as Context-Sensitive Contents, or CSC for short. For example, the concept of price could be represented using different currencies (e.g., Euro, US Dollar) and according to different price formats. Also, date and time concepts could be represented using different time zones and according to different formats. This situation leads to several discrepancies which Web readers encounter on the Web, as they (need to) follow their contexts to interpret these CSCs. One possible solution is to annotate CSCs with semantic metadata (i.e., authors’ contexts), so that it becomes feasible for Web browsers to adapt the former to different users’ contexts. However, the annotation of Web contents is a complex process due to the lack of annotation means that assist authors to perform this process. From users’ perspectives, the discrepancies that could rise from the interpretation of Web contents and the complexity of annotation process are considered as Web 2.0 usability problems. This thesis proposes an approach for handling the aforementioned problems. This approach involves the following. Firstly, an evaluation of several designs alternatives to adapt CSCs to different users’ contexts. Secondly, a semantic model which describes how CSCs are annotated with context information. Thirdly, a context-aware architecture, which shows how our approach works seamlessly with Web technologies. Fourthly, an interactive annotation process that details how Web authors are assisted to specify their contexts and to annotate CSCs with suitable context information. Finally, an adaptation process that details how readers’ applications adapt CSCs according to their readers’ local contexts.
Date of Award10 Jan 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Namur
SupervisorJean-Luc HAINAUT (Supervisor), Philippe THIRAN (Co-Supervisor), STEPHANE FAULKNER (Jury), Vincent ENGLEBERT (Jury), Michaël Mrissa (Jury) & Jean-Marie JACQUET (President)


  • User Local Context
  • Web 2.0
  • Web Annotation
  • Web Adaptation

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