Please Vote in the TidBITS 2019 Reader Survey!
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!
I forgot to mention in my survey that although I have never commented on Agen Schmidt’s column, I always read and appreciate it. And even though I have not used stuff like BBEdit for a few years, I might decide to use it again sometimes in the future. And though I might not have been very interested in an application when it was initially reviewed, I’ve been reminded about apps in the updates that now belonged on my Apple radar screen.
Yeah, those Watchlist items were popular last time around too, with much the same response. People like knowing what’s going on with major apps, even if they garner very few comments.
I have been reading the weekly email newsletter scanning for articles of interest and many times getting the information I needed without going to the website. I was surprised to see how much better the website is with the new design. It looks great and is easier to navigate. I think the images are a bit too big and some are not as relevant to the topic — for example, a train photo for the post on mapping apps. I have a 27-inch monitor, and that train took up the entire screen. It was an extra step to get to the text. I vote for a smaller image with word wrap, so I can get to the content faster.
I have been a Mac user since 1985 and I have been a faithful reader since you started.
The “featured images” are one of those things that we added because they’re expected in modern Web publications (see this example at The Verge) and because they’re essentially necessary for the articles to appear reasonably in Twitter or Facebook. And I do think they’re often pretty, although it can be quite a lot of work to find and/or edit them.
I will admit that I’m contemplating eliminating them since they may be more work than they’re worth. I’ve thought about a smaller presentation with word wrap, as you suggest, but I think that eliminates what useful impact they do have a full size.
The image size on the iPhone is good and does not take up the whole page like it does on a large monitor.
At least the list of articles do not have the images so I can quickly scan do what I want to read.
I know what you mean about web design trends. I have seen a few in my day.
I read the Washington Post on my phone a lot. I notice that they are using the featured image before the article. I also noticed that many of their images now are illustrations rather than an actual photo.
Unfortunately we are in an era of short attention span‘s and distractions so colorful images have become the norm to get peoples’ attention.
Keep up the good work and thanks for listening to me.
I signed up as a member again. It is worth it.
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