Web site personalization (sometimes called customization) means providing each user with a unique experience tailored to their individual needs and desires. Exactly how that’s accomplished can vary widely.
Some personalization schemes track how visitors behave on the site and try to give them more of what they seem to like. This can be as simple as checking to see what browser a visitor uses and then delivering pages coded to take advantage of that browser’s capabilities.
Other personalization approaches actually ask users what they want and then try to provide it. They use questionnaires, forms or a series of decision-tree links to collect user preferences. On the high end, new technologies like collaborative filtering (also called group filtering) are designed to automatically divine appropriate content by combining a visitor’s own preferences with the preferences of other, like-minded people.
The importance of personalization is still being debated. Many sites successfully ignore the issue, while others have effectively used personalization to create a bond with their users. Once a user takes the trouble to personalize a site for their own needs, they are more likely to keep coming back rather than starting over on someone else’s site.