Elpub buttonEl.pub Reader Survey Results
April 2000

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Methodology | Main results | Computer/OS type | Screen resolution | Organisation worked for | Country | Areas of interest | Reactions to recent changes | Useful parts of the web site | Difficulties in using the site | Content | Other comments | Conclusions

April 2000 El.pub survey results

EPIFOCAL project
Date: 15 June 2000


A short questionnaire was attached to the web site for three weeks in April 2000. The questionnaire was also mailed to the weekly e-mail alerter list. A copy of the questionnaire used is available on the web.

Clearly the response is self-selecting and not a random sample of visitors to the web site. The number of responses was 124. 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 850 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 1250-2000 per week.

The number of responses was 33% higher than in the similar survey in May 1999 and this is consistent with the growth rate in visits to the site.

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

124 responses were received. 56% were filled in on the web site and 44% 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/2000 39%
Apple/MAC 8%
PC running Linux 3%
UNIX workstation 3%

These are similar to the figures in 1999, with a slight shift from non-Windows OS to NT.

Screen resolution

1024 x 768 58%
800 x 600 32%
640 x 480 5%
Don’t know 5%

The high resolution used by our users is probably a consequence of their interest and professional bias to electronic publishing. There has been a significant increase in resolution compared with last year.

Organisation worked for

Academic 24%
Information industry 19%
Computer industry 14%
Publishing industry 12%
Other commercial 19%
Government 6 %
Other non-profit 5%

64% of respondents are in a commercial organisation, 24% in an academic organisation, 11% in a non-profit organisation.


EU country 70%
North America 20%
Other European 4%
Other 6%

Although the users base is still strongly European the percentage of North American readers has grown significantly from last year (13%).

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

Web publishing 76%
Standards 53%
E-commerce 66%
Personalisation 45%
Mobile 42%
Paper publishing 37%
CD/DVD publishing 37%
Graphics 31%
VR 30%
GIS 19%
Broadcasting 19%
Other 18%
Entertainment 17%
Advertising 14%

The number of categories was increased from last year to cover the greater range of topics now included in the content. There has been a drop in interest in web publishing but a new interest in mobile and personalisation.

Reactions to recent changes in the web site (multiple choice: % of respondents choosing)

Separate news and other blocs 81%
Changes so far good 55%
More blocs 33%
Different styles 18%

Since the last survey some parts of the site have been partitioned off as separate sections (cultural heritage, creative technology, VR, GI Systems). The percentages represent those in favour as opposed to those against. The separation of news is clearly popular and users are generally favourable to the changes so far. However they are not keen on more sections and against the sections using different styles (cultural heritage and GI systems are markedly different).

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

Topic news 67%
Headlines 65%
Product information 51%
Project information 47%
E-journal information 40%
Resource / download 40%
Event news 38%
Creativie technology 36%
News archive 33%
Search engine 27%
Cultural Heritage 19%
Association information 16%
VR 12%
GIS 10%
Translation 6%
Other 1%

The response choices were increased in this section as in the interest section to cover the expanded content. The low scores for the new VR and GIS sections are probably due to the more market oriented content of the VR pages, and the generally low interest level amongst users in GIS. Translation had only recently been added to the site and was only available on one page. The high level of interest in the cultural heritage pages is surprising given the infrequent updating. These pages give advice on funding opportunities and perhaps there is a need to extend this type of information to other sectors.

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

Finding info 12%
Page layout 9%
Access speed 8%
Navigation 7%
Page length 6%
Poor content 1%
No difficulties 67%

The level of difficulty continues at the low levels recorded last year despite the increase in size and complexity of the site. We have introduced some improvements that have no doubt helped including a simpler page structure and better site maps.

Content, given that the aim is a technical service (multiple choice: % of respondents choosing):

About right 83%
Too technical 4%
Too market oriented 6%

Other comments:

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 mixed response to changes will mean that we take a conservative attitude in making further changes to the site.

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 64% of respondents are from the commercial sector 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 growth in North American readers is good news as we were unhappy with the very low level recorded last year.

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 5 areas per respondent. The high level of interest in the web, standards and e-commerce confirms their 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 interest in creative technology is a reflection of the move from simple text and graphic publishing to animation and other interactive multimedia content on the web.

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 improving site maps are confirmed in the survey.

The lack of any complaints on content (well, only 1 out of 124) 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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Last up-dated: 16 February 2024

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