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Methodology | Main results | Computer/OS type | Screen resolution | Organisation worked for | Participant in an EU funded R&D programme | Country | Areas of interest | Frequency of visit | Useful parts of the web site | Difficulties in using the site | Content | Other comments | Conclusions

May 1999 El.pub survey results

Date: 14 July, 1999

The popularity of El.pub has grown considerably since its launch. We also have a growing community of people receiving the El.pub Weekly service.

As part of the process of deciding how to extend the content and format of the web site we surveyed the views of our users. The survey is published below and is also available as a zipped Word file (9.3K) from the following URL: ftp://ftp.pira.co.uk/users/ket/public/results.zip.


A short questionnaire was attached to the web site for two weeks in May 1999. The questionnaire was also mailed to the weekly e-mail alerter list. A copy of the questionnaire used is available on the web.
URL: http://inf2.pira.co.uk/quest.htm

Clearly the response is self-selecting and not a random sample of visitors to the web site. The number of responses was 93. It is generally accepted that a reasonable level of response to a survey conducted in this way is of the order of 10-15%.

As the weekly alerter is mailed to over 600 people, who are probably regular users of the web site, taken in conjunction with the visit figure for the site the result would be consistent with a regular readership level of around 1000-1500 per week.

The non-random nature of the survey means that one should not place too much faith in the detailed results.

The questionnaire was designed to answer a number of questions:

Main results

93 responses were received. 57% were filled in on the web site and 43% were e-mailed back. The e-mail responses were from those on the e-mail list, the web forms were a mixture of those on the list and other users.

Computer / OS type

PC running Windows 95/98 46%
PC running Windows NT 33%
Apple/MAC 6%
PC running Linux 5%
UNIX workstation 5%
Other 4%

Screen resolution

1024 x 768 47%
800 x 600 35%
640 x 480 8%
Don’t know 6%
Other 3%

The high resolution used by our users is probably a consequence of their interest and professional bias to electronic publishing. Alternatively it could be that the site doesn't look good in low resolution and deters users with that type of equipment.

Organisation worked for

Academic 26%
Publishing 15%
Information industry 15%
Computer industry 14%
Government 10%
Other commercial 10%
(Association/ngo) 6%
Home user 2%
Broadcasting 1%

There were 13% of respondents who replied "Other" to the questionnaire but most provided sufficient information to place them in one of the categories. Association / ngo was added because there were sufficient respondents to "Other" who gave this as an amplification to warrant creating a specific category. A small number of respondents gave more than one category. 55% of respondents are in a commercial organisation, 26% in an academic organisation, 18% in a non-profit organisation or are a home user.

Participant in an EU funded R&D programme

Yes 33%
No 67%


EU country 74%
North America 13%
Other European 6%
Australia/Pacific 4%
Other 3%

This is a surprising result given the higher penetration of Internet use in North America and probably represents the result of our advertising being largely confined to the EU.

Areas of interest (multiple choice: % of respondents choosing)

Web publishing 91%
Standards 67%
E-commerce 66%
Paper publishing 42%
CD/DVD publishing 41%
Graphics 30%
VR 27%
Broadcasting 27%
(IPR/regulation) 5%
Other 20%

IPR/regulation was not a specific category in the questionnaire but was a significant area amongst the 'Other' category. It would no doubt have been greater if listed as a category.

Frequency of visit

Weekly 58%
Monthly 23%
Less than monthly 9%
Daily 4%
First time 2%
Other 3%

The figures will underestimate the infrequent visitors both because of the sample period (some potential respondents will not visit the site during the survey) and because they are less likely to respond. The result corresponds to the frequency of update (twice a week) and the weekly cycle of the e-mail alerter.

Parts of the web site found useful (multiple choice: % of respondents choosing)

Topic news 77%
E-journal information 57%
Project information 54%
Product information 51%
Event news 46%
Association information 17%
Other resources 18%
Other 3%

Difficulties in using the site (multiple choice: % of respondents choosing)

Access speed 11%
Navigating the site 11%
Visual aspects / layout 8%
Page length 6%
Finding information 5%
Poor content ---
Other 11%

The result is very encouraging, only 37% of respondents gave any indication of difficulty. The users clearly judge us less harshly than we do ourselves.

Content, given that the aim is a technical service

About right 90%
Too technical 7%
Too market oriented 3%

Other comments (count)

Positive 19
Negative 1

The comments were mainly suggestions for additional services, together with a compliment on the site.


The level of positive responses to the questions shows that the web site is successfully meeting the expectations of its regular users, and goes a long way to explaining the continuing strong growth in the number of users. It also confirms our general model of user requirements and the scope of the site content.

The hardware reported corresponds to the assumptions that we have been making and the low level of difficulties in use supports the design decisions that we have made. The difficulties reported are in line with our views and will be used to improve the usability of the site.

The industry breakdown shows that we are reaching a wide audience in the market sectors aimed at. The high level of academics responding probably reflects the technical / RTD focus and the importance that they play as information "gate keepers" within EU RTD projects. The fact that 55% of respondents are from the commercial sector and 67% of respondents are from organisations not involved in the EU programmes, shows that we are reaching industry at an adequate level and acting successfully as an information dissemination channel.

The high proportion of respondents from the EU also suggests success in reaching European industry.

The high level of interest across the different topic areas shows the broad spectrum of interest in our audience. The average level of interest was just over 4 areas per respondent. The high level of interest in the web confirms its central importance in electronic publishing at the moment.

The responses to the question on the usefulness of different parts of the site shows some surprising results that need to be reflected in future development. The support for the news areas confirms the general focus we have adopted. The importance of the e-journal page implies that there is an interest in additional information of a focussed nature. The low rating of "Other resources" supports this, but may also simply be a reflection of the wording. The high level of interest in project information is surprising given that the information is not often updated and is rather sparse. The implication is that we should devote more attention to this in the future.

The difficulties encountered are not entirely under our control (particularly access speed for which the site is optimised, and which depends on a number of external factors) but need to be addressed in future work. The ideas we have been working on to improve the site such as adding site maps and reducing page length (inter-related aspects) are confirmed in the survey.

The lack of any complaints on content is encouraging as we have made this the main focus of our efforts. Requests for particular additions will be taken into account in future development of the site.


We would like to thank all the people who took part in the survey

and hope that we continue to meet your needs.

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El.pub - Interactive Electronic Publishing R & D News and Resources
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Last up-dated: 16 February 2024

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