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We are building a survey/testing website and one feature we would like to include is asking a user to research something on the internet. Give them a "fake" address bar to put the first URL they want to start with (we'd suggest google or something)

Then we'd like to see all the urls they click, use etc until they have found what they are looking for. We are only interested in the urls.

We thought we could quickly do this using JavaScript and iFrames, but this is locked down by the browser vendors.

So we are left with some sort of proxy solution? We are happy to install any piece of software on a server, paid, opensource, etc is fine.

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4 Answers

I've seen Loop11 in use for exactly this at a ux meeting recently in which moderated and unmoderated user testing was being discussed. I was quite impressed by it. It's not cheap - you pay per test - but you get first one free when you sign up.

(see also the slides from the Remote Usability Testing talk by Rob Kerr and Neil Turner - tools are listed on slide 16/17)

Also, at the same event - Michele Ide-Smith talked about using Loop11 to see how well users found a particular page - see slide 31 of her presentation which shows some sample results.

Try the Loop11 evaluation demo.

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Linking text is valuable as it helps Google index specific text and associate with those URLs. –  Rahul Jul 21 '11 at 13:02
    
@Rahul: I'm afraid I have to disagree. It may help the linked page to get a better ranking for this phrase but IMO usability is more important and seeing the URL gives you more information than a text link (same reason I don't like shortened URLs). –  Phil Jul 22 '11 at 2:35
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@Phil So, wait, are you arguing against the use of hyperlinked text? I've never heard anyone do that before :-) Surely reading "slide 31 of her presentation" and clicking that is more useful than ide-smith.co.uk/?p=817. Your browser will show you the target URL before you click. –  Rahul Jul 22 '11 at 8:25
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Can I interject here. If you put a link like 'See here: [link url]', then the visible URL probably adds value. However, lets say we wrap the link up into a well written contextual sentence with an underlying explanation of what the page is about and who it is from, and then hyperlink a suitable bit of the text. Then I don't think the URL actually adds any more value and in any case that would then seem to be the best practice in terms of context, flow, readability, SEO. See any 'good' wikipedi entry for example. I admit to being lazy in this respect in my first iteration of this post :-) –  Roger Attrill Jul 22 '11 at 8:51
    
@Rahul: Hehe :) No, I'm not generally against the use of hyperlink text. But this discussion is really off topic here and my answer wouldn't fit in here. I'll start a new questions, please join the discussion (Roger too of course). –  Phil Jul 22 '11 at 12:17
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I think selenium might do for what you want. Its designed for recording then replaying user interactions with websites.

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In addition to other answers, if you're targeting the users who have Windows 7, you may also want to use "Problem Steps Recorder" feature.

Pros:

  • It's free,
  • It doesn't need to be installed,
  • It's actually easy to use and produces a nice record of steps which can also be used programmatically.

Cons:

  • It's available only in Windows 7,
  • The records may be too large.
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There is a sample Google Chrome extension that captures urls visited.
Look for WebNavigation Tech Demo on this page.

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