February 14, 2001, 12:00 AM

A new study shows consumers don’t know how to navigate the web

How new is web surfing to most people? They don’t know how to travel directly to their destinations, says Alexa Research.

A comprehensive two-year study by Alexa Research, a web intelligence and traffic measurement service, reveals that many web users do not know how to reach their intended web destination directly. Alexa reached its conclusion after studying the searching habits of millions of consumers. Rather than entering a uniform resource locator into the address field of their web browsers, millions of Internet users enter the name of the site they want into the search box of their home page or other search engine. These findings are based on an examination of more than 42 million search pages viewed in aggregate by users of the Alexa toolbar at ten of the Internet`s leading portals and search engines--altavista.com, aol.com, excite.com, go.com, google.com, goto.com, lycos.com, msn.com, netscape.com, and yahoo.com--between March 1999 and January 2001. "Based on the results of this study, we believe that the web is still a technical hurdle many people have not yet cleared," said Matthew Work, vice president of Alexa Research. "We were surprised by the number of people that accessed web sites by entering site names as search terms rather than just typing them in the address field of their browser. This study shows that for many, there`s a conceptual misunderstanding of how to effectively navigate the web. Some people think that their home page is the Web, that they have to go through their home page to get to the site they want, without realizing that any web site can be accessed directly. This notion is supported by our web traffic popularity rankings, where eight of the top 10 sites are portals and/or search engines."

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