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  • Author: Man Zhu x
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How Users Search the Mobile Web: A Model for Understanding the Impact of Motivation and Context on Search Behaviors



This study explores how search motivation and context influence mobile Web search behaviors.


We studied 30 experienced mobile Web users via questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, and an online diary tool that participants used to record their daily search activities. SQLite Developer was used to extract data from the users’ phone logs for correlation analysis in Statistical Product and Service Solutions (SPSS).


One quarter of mobile search sessions were driven by two or more search motivations. It was especially difficult to distinguish curiosity from time killing in particular user reporting. Multi-dimensional contexts and motivations influenced mobile search behaviors, and among the context dimensions, gender, place, activities they engaged in while searching, task importance, portal, and interpersonal relations (whether accompanied or alone when searching) correlated with each other.

Research limitations

The sample was comprised entirely of college students, so our findings may not generalize to other populations. More participants and longer experimental duration will improve the accuracy and objectivity of the research.

Practical implications

Motivation analysis and search context recognition can help mobile service providers design applications and services for particular mobile contexts and usages.


Most current research focuses on specific contexts, such as studies on place, or other contextual influences on mobile search, and lacks a systematic analysis of mobile search context. Based on analysis of the impact of mobile search motivations and search context on search behaviors, we built a multi-dimensional model of mobile search behaviors.

Open access