User Survey Results
February 14, 2006
Last month we conducted a site-wide user survey to gauge how we’re doing in meeting the needs of our users. Below you’ll find tables of results for many of the questions. Overall we are doing wonderfully…we are the favorite website for three out of four users, nearly 60% visit AAR once a day or more, and 97% of our users grade us A or B. I am incredibly proud of all the hard work you do because without it, we would not have achieved these results. But some tweaking needs to be done to make us an even better website for our users.
I have always wanted AAR to be a full-service website, one that offers a variety of content and a variety of ways in which our users can make use of the site. As a result we offer a variety of original material as well as lots of interactivity. Some of what we do is entirely calculated, but totally unknown to our users. For instance, our Writer’s News Message Board is not visited by very many of our users, nor do many of them find it particularly useful for them. That said, however, by offering the board to begin with, we are able to keep author promos off our other boards. The ATBF Message Board is used by many of those who read ATBF (not everyone does), and only a portion of those users who participate at the start of an ATBF discussion continue throughout the two-week life-span of the board. Our Reader to Reader Message Board is meant to be our most non-controversial and non-confrontational board, and I think we succeed there.
Because we are a full-service website, I don’t expect that every feature will appeal to every user. Variety is important to me and I think it’s one reason for our success. Just about every main feature at AAR has its fan base, and those who aren’t fans aren’t against any particular feature, they simply don’t use them all. That’s okay…unless we want to be all reviews all the time, which is something I have no interest in doing, that’s simply the reality of the situation.
That said, there are some things we can do in the short and long term to make our full service better all around. I’m going to list the major issues and solutions/possible solutions:
1) Not enough reviews – Our users love, love, love our reviews, but over the past six months it’s become a problem to post enough reviews to meet our goals. Basically when all of you signed on, you committed to writing one review per week/four reviews per month. Many of you, for a variety of reasons, are not living up to that commitment. We stopped achieving our original goal of 60 reviews per month in 2004 and last year only squeaked by with 50 per month. Right now it’s mid-February and we’ve got fewer than ten reviews online (I’ll be posting several later, but we should have 25 reviews online now and will perhaps have fourteen after my update).
Currently there are sixteen “active” reviewers and editors who also review. Were all sixteen of you living up to your commitments, we would be posting 64 reviews per month, well over the 50 we need to maintain our position as the premiere romance novel website. If you can no longer live up to your original commitment, you need to work with your direct editor. But the bottom line is this: if you can’t do four reviews a month, you will need to do three. If you are not also involved in some other activity at the site on a consistent basis and cannot handle three reviews per month on a consistent basis (I understand vacations and real life occasionally intervening), you need to rethink your position at AAR. All of you are incredibly talented and I want each and every one of you to stay, but everyone needs to hold their own.
I will however, when I make some of these results public, include a link to our online “Do you want to be an AAR reviewer?” form and will encourage new reviewers to join us. That said, we ought to be able to achieve our 50 reviews/month goal if all of you are turning in three or four reviews a month. If you are burned out, rather than going on hiatus, review something else…either a new sub-genre or genre, or start whipping out some reviews of oldies but goodies until you feel rejuvinated.
2) Database and design improvements – I can’t tell you how many of our users want me to go back to our old system of linking to reviews when books are part of a series. We decided early on in the design process that this required too much of my time and as a result built into the bottom of all review pages a mini-search module so that users could find those other books in a series for themselves. Some of those surveyed