Monday, October 23, 2006

Results of the readers' survey

It is now the first birthday of this blog (29th October to be precise), so it is timely to release the results of the Reader's Survey. (If you didn't notice it before, there has been links at the top of the page for some months for this survey.)

How do people find these pages?

One third of readers come to us from links on other pages. Some of the most used referral links are those from: Stockport Express; Stockport Harriers, not to mention the occasional visitor from Flickr, Metro News, Mike Kiernan's website and North Cheshire Family History site.
The second source is from search engines, with just over 1 in 4 doing a web search which leads them to our pages.
One in five came from a referral from a friend. Two said they came from "other" sources, one said it was Steve Cliffe who told them about the site, but they obviously didn't classify him as a friend. But I can't joke because the other "other" I think referred to me.
Only one person said that they found us through the Stockport Heritage Magazine. At least it did better than our leaflet, which attracted no one, but I am not sure the leaflet even gives our address. I keep trying to persuade people to include our web address on leaflets and Trust products sold at the Heritage Centre.

What is interesting?

Two thirds of our readers find the photographs very interesting.
Joint second most interesting features are: Trust news and past events; and planning application information. 44% of the readers find these "very interesting".
Joint 4th are: future events; and excerpts for news publications. One third of readers found them very interesting.
Only 22% found links to other sites "very interesting" and 11% found links to Stockport Council sites "very interesting".

If instead, we list the most interesting, by adding together "very interesting" with "interesting", we get a slightly different order.
100% find Trust news and past events interesting.
89% find photographs interesting.
78% find future events interesting.
67% find excerpts from news publications interesting.
56% find planning applications interesting.
Only 44%, i.e. less than half the respondents, find links to other sites and to Stockport Council web pages interesting.

What do readers want more of?

Readers want more of practically everything, with at least half wanting more: photographs; Trust news and past events; and links to other sites. Note that "links to other sites" scores highly despite only 44% considering it interesting.
44% would like more "excerpts from news publications" but an equal number would like less.
The only item where the number asking for less is greater than those asking for more is for "links to the Stockport Council website", where 33% would like less versus 22% wanting more.
No one wants less "links to other sites" and "Trust news and past events".

Reader's suggestions for additional features

"Profiles of heritage places of interest locally."
My personal thought on this is that most of these are already covered by other websites, hence all the (apparently unpopular) links to other sites.
When the Trust visits a heritage site, the write up could probably say more about the site, but that is up to the contributor.

Contributors please take note of this request. Can you add a profile of a local heritage site? If you aren't a contributor, you can contact me to get you added to the list of bloggers, or send me material and I will post it for you. (

"A short write up and picture of Trust members. There are so members we never see, it would be a shame to pass one in the street and not know!"
This would be nice. We should probably start with the Trustees and management committee members so that members know who are looking after their interests.
I would like to learn more about those who I only know electronically, such as photographer Allen Gleave. However, I don't know how many readers will volunteer this information so the faces we never see at Management Committee are likely to remain incognito.

"A monthly puzzle picture"
An interesting idea, as long as this doesn't tread on the toes of Stockport Heritage Magazine which has occasionally run such a puzzle.
Who would provide these photos? I could borrow them from Flickr, but attentive readers will have seen them already.

"How about some tie in with the LGBT History Month held each February. There was a great number of activities in Stockport this past February including the official opening at the Stockport Art Gallery (covered by the Stockport Express). The organising facilitators in Stockport are Age Concern and the PLUS Group."
The blog site did feature the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite History Month by giving a link to a relevant site. I think it was the Stockport Council press release. Though Stockport Age Concern and the PLUS group were supposed to be sponsoring it I found practically no information on their websites either. As I couldn't find any actual history events, that was the limit of the coverage. I will be keeping a lookout for LGBT History Month next February.

"More pics"
This is supported by the other survey responses. I am not sure how to implement it.
More and longer displays of photos in the right hand margin?
More photos illustrating articles? (I try but they aren't always available)
Postings consisting entirely of photos? (I admit I discouraged Allen when he posted a lot of photos, with out comments to the site. They were good photos, but my judgement was that the site provided good links to Flickr where searches can be done for Stockport photos by him and others. Perhaps I was wrong to do this.)

People obviously want more photos. Please advise me how to do this. Add comments (click on "comments" in the footer).

"Samples of old photographs :- different areas of Stockport each month"
A good idea and an advert for our vast store available for viewing at the Heritage Centre. Someone has to scan them in first.

We are looking into scanning most if not all our old photos. There will be a presentation from House of Images, offering one solution to posting the photos on the internet and offering them for sale, at the next Trust meeting (Wed 1st Nov, 8pm at the Old Rectory).

Meanwhile, may be someone will volunteer to scan in a photo a month. I don't have a scanner.

"None it is very good"
Thanks for the endorsement, but I remain keen to find new ways of improving the blog.

Comments, suggestions, complaints or ideas

"A spotlight on individual members and their work"
This interesting variation on a suggestion made above. It would also be an opportunity to say thank you for their contributions.

"Can the blog be arranged so that there are more defined sections, i.e. put planning applications at the end in a section of its own"
The nature of a blog is that it is sorted by date like a journal, so this is not easily done.
If we had a website, either instead of or as well as the blog, then information could be organised by type, but a website needs to be kept up-to-date. Our two previous websites have lapsed through in attention. I am not volunteering to run a website. We are open to volunteers.
What I could do is set up a second blog, so items are divided between the two. The problem with that is the people who only sometimes find planning applications interesting will seldom look at that blog and miss the info they would have wanted to see.
What I am not sure is how many people are put off by uninteresting postings. When presented with several planning applications do they simply page down to the next interesting posting, or do they leave the blog. I hope it is the former.

"On line becoming a member"
I suppose that might be possible, using PayPal. What I am aiming to do is provide a downloadable application form to printed off by the user, for posting to our membership secretary.

"Would like to see your stock or some of your stock of photographs on a web site to view and purchase"
See above response to the request for monthly old pictures.

Connection type

Most users have fast connections, but a third still on slow dial up modems, we should aim to limit the download size of the blog. (I have assumed that the "don't know" respondee has a slow connection.)

Location of readers

78% of the responses came from Stockport and I think that one of the two non-Stockport responses was from Fernilee near Whalley Bridge, so there is a strong local bias which is not surprising.
Locations of visitors to this page

None of the respondents was from abroad. As the global plotting of visitors shows, we do get a lot of international visitors. A high proportion of these visitors have landed on our site by chance (flicking through blogs), but quite a lot of them have made specific Stockport searches which led them to our page.

Frequency of visit

Over half the respondents visit the site at least once a week.
I keep the upcoming events, at the head of the blog about one week in advance. It would seem that this is a suitable timeframe to use.

It is nice that three first time visitors took the effort to respond to the survey. I wonder if they are now regular visitors.

Participation in the Trust

Two of the respondents are committee members, apart from that, the respondents are not a part of the Trust. I think this demonstrates a real phenomena, that the blog contacts a lot of Stopfordians not involved with the Trust. It would have been interesting for the survey to have asked whether they read the magazine, to see if it is a different audience.

Attendence of Trust events

I am glad to say that Committee Members have attended all three of our main Trust events. Excluding them from the statistics, then 43% of the remainder have visited the Heritage Centre, but none have been on the other Trust events.

I would love to hear people's comments on this survey. It is only a small sample of 15 people (or 9 for most of the questions), so feel free to totally disagree. Or may be you have ideas for how to implement the suggestions.