Our last reader survey ran in late 2015, when we were starting on the major site redesign and Internet infrastructure transition that finally came to fruition in April 2018. Between the new site and all the changes in Internet publishing over the past few years, we’ve started to wonder if our sense of how we’re doing still matches what you think. Since the majority of our funding comes directly from TidBITS readers via our membership program, we focus on what’s best for readers rather than advertisers.
To answer that question and more, we would greatly appreciate it if you would participate in our TidBITS 2019 Reader Survey. We’ve broken it into a few short sections, and it should take about 5 minutes to complete, or a bit more if you want to provide optional free-form feedback for some of the questions. The survey itself relies on Google Forms, and it should work on any device, although it will be easiest to enter free-form responses on a Mac or an iPad with a keyboard.
The core motivation for the survey is that we have a hard time evaluating how much you like what we’re writing. When we publish an article, the main feedback we get is in the comments, and even then, the discussion doesn’t always reveal whether readers found the article helpful or interesting or anything else, just that they have opinions about the topic. Engagement is good, but even the lack of engagement isn’t necessarily indicative. In our previous reader survey, Agen Schmitz’s Watchlist items about Mac software updates were rated highly, but they seldom garner any comments.
For many other publications, Web stats show how popular an article is, but that has never worked well for us because so many of our readers receive TIdBITS in email. TidBITS articles that rack up a notable number of Web hits do so because of getting significant external coverage from other sites, showing up in Google News briefly, or ranking highly for a specific Google search. We always appreciate that attention, but it doesn’t come from the regular readers and TidBITS members we work for.
Our other motivation for the survey is to see what you think of the Internet infrastructure and visual redesign that we put into place in 2018. Although it may have seemed like we were done in April 2018, we’ve been tweaking and refining ever since, and we just moved our email delivery system from SendGrid, which was costing us over $200 per month, to Amazon SES, which is about $20 per month. Although the most significant changes may be behind us, if we see small ways to improve the user experience, we can add those to the development list.
So please, take the survey and let us know how we’re doing!