UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Blog Evaluation: November 2010

About This Page

This page provides access to the results of an evaluation of the UK Web Focus blog carried out in the period from 1-16th November 2010.

The survey was announced in a post about the Fourth Anniversary of this Blog – Feedback Invited. The SurveyMonkey service was used to carry out the evaluation.

The aims of the survey were to get a better picture of the platforms and tools used by readers of the blog; obtain a profile of readers active participation with the blog;  solicit comments on the content of the blog, its publishing frequency, etc. and receive general comments on the blog and the open notebook approach which has been taken.

A total of 27 responses were received. Note that the last survey was carried out in a four week period in August-September 2007, a year after the blog was launched. In that survey 39 responses were received.

The responses from the current survey are given below.

Part 1 How you access the UK Web Focus blog

What is the main tool you use for reading blog posts?

56% of those responding use an RSS reader; 37% visit the blog site and 7% receive posts via email. Google Reader was the most popular RSS reader, used by 42%.

Other comments:

  • I use Feedingo to access RSS feeds after Bloglines became doubtful
  • Website viewing is a personal preference – I’m interested in web page layout choices including people’s decisions about widgets and sidebar usage.
  • Alerted by twitter

What secondary tools do you use for reading blog posts?

81% of readers also visit the blog site, 17% use an RSS reader and 13% also receive posts via email.

Note that  no respondents read the blog on RSS aggregation service or used an RSS browser plugin and only 4% used a dedicated RSS reader.

Other comments:

  • Also mobile RSS apps
  • If I have spotted an interesting post title via Facebook or Twitter before I sit down to read my RSS feeds, I end up reading the post at the website.
  • Very, very occasionally use an RSS reader – but never got the hang of them, to be honest.
  • Usually by following tweeted links to posts.

What is the main platform you use for reading blog posts?

67% of those responding use MS Windows; 26% use an Apple Mac; 4% Linux and 4% Android.

What other platforms do you use for reading the blog?

18% of those responding use MS Windows; 12% use an Apple Mac; 18% Linux; 41% iPod; 18% Android Smartphone; 6% Other Smartphone; 12% iPad and 6% Android phone. There were no reported accesses using other types of PDAs, gaming machines on digital TVs

When do you normally read blog posts?

42% of those responding normally read posts at work, when posts arrive in their RSS reader; 29% at work, when they receive an alert (e.g. through Twitter) ; 8% at work, when posts arrive in their email client; 17% at home, when posts arrive in their RSS reader and 4% at home, when posts arrive in their email client.

Other comments:

  • Your options are leading – My answer would be:
    At work during lunch/coffee breaks when I browse the Web.
  • Before work, while eating breakfast.
  • I don’t tend to read the posts when I see the alert; I favourite it on twitter to come back to when I have the time.
  • I usually use my lunch break to sort through Google Reader
  • At work during lunch breaks when I dip in on the Web
  • My answer wasn’t there: At work as part of daily web-news reading.
  • I read them all the time, it’s not fair to make me pick one.
  • I work at home, check reader several times a day, occasionally follow tweeted links in advance of reading post via reader
  • I’m alerted via a Facebook update, which works well at the moment.
  • Frequently before work when I catch up on twitter

What other ways have you used to read blog posts?

35% of those responding normally read posts at work, when posts arrive in their RSS reader; 55% at work, when they receive an alert (e.g. through Twitter) ; 15% at work, when posts arrive in their email client; 25% when they receive an alert whilst travelling; 25% when posts arrive in their RSS reader whilst travelling; 40% at home, when posts arrive in their RSS reader; 20% at home, when posts arrive in their email client and 25% at home when they receive an alert.

Other comments:

  • At any other time when I get around to looking at the blogs I read.
  • Via Google Reader, but it didn’t last because I prefer reading directly from the blog site.
  • Only time I am likely to read post on phone is when traveling. On those occasions, I appreciate blogs that run a mobile theme.

Part 2. Your Engagement With the Blog

Have you added comments to blog posts?

88% of those responding have added comments on the blog.

Other comments:

  • Mainly because you seem very defensive when people comment and always dive in with a counter-remark, which I find a bit OTT. (Note, in response to saying ‘no’ to adding comments)
  • Maybe 1 in 20 posts?

Have you written a guest post on the blog?

9% of those responding have written a guest post on the blog.

Would you be interested in writing a guest blog post?

There were seven responses:

  1. Possibly yes, but I don’t write enough on the blogs that I consider ‘mine’, so it would be a hard choice.
  2. No. My area of knowledge / experience wouldn’t fit with the broader purpose of your site.
  3. Not really, too busy with my own blog.
  4. How well do you think guest posts have gone down? Another more radical approach would be to support syndicated posts, where eg you subscribe to a syndication category feed from another author and either they decide when to post to your blog, or you ask them if they are happy to syndicate a post. This achieves the greater reach. OR does the fact of the guest post and the way if provides a different context to the norm is implicitly making a different sort of point (and if so, what?)
  5. I would love to one day. I have ideas but none concrete just yet. Perhaps the next time I think of a good IWMW presentation I’ll ask to write a guest post about it.
  6. What, and act as link bait for Bath? You must be joking :-)
  7. maybe. Or maybe just syndicate anything relevant from our team blog.

Part 3. Contents of the Blog

Please give your views on the content of the UK Web Focus blog

There were 18 responses:

  1. Content is appropriate. informative, timely and thought provoking.
  2. As a Librarian there is usually (but not always) something of interest for me.This blog is consistently thought-provoking and helps me to formulate my own ideas about the use of technology in libraries and HE. Definitely a leader in its field.
  3. Interesting content
  4. I’ve found your blog useful as it covers some of the same issues that we’re dealing with in our project (MeCAT, and have been able to use it to help clarify some of my thoughts.
  5. A great range of content – some of which is outside of my main areas of interest/technical knowledge, but much of which is very interesting and has inspired me to blog more exploring my own experiences with various technologies
  6. It’s good reading; it’s often messy, but it’s consistently messy so I don’t find that a problem. I know what to expect. The fact that I sometimes don’t agree is what makes it worth reading.
  7. Often sparks thought / interest.
  8. Interesting and varied
  9. For me the content hits the spot covering topics I’m interested in.
  10. I understand this to be a discussion about the use of technology in institutions like universities, libraries and museums – with particular focus on three themes: openness or access to data and/or tools; standardization; innovation and/or use of newer web tools.
    Lots of times the blog talks about things I don’t understand, using terminology I’m not familiar with, so there are probably many other aspects of the site that I’m missing.
  11. Excellent content, among the very best in the field.
  12. I have yet to have found anything not worth reading. I enjoy the fact that it has wide scope.
  13. very pertinent and insightful
  14. Open notebook approach with an aim of demonstrating/illustrating the practice preached. Handy round-ups of what’s going on across the HE sector. Occasional political and rapper dancing mentions add colour, though they may jar with some readers.
  15. Sufficiently relevant to me to keep me reading!
  16. Very relevant to me. Always thought provoking and interesting. A bit variable in the depth of thought/research included, but this is to be expected for such prolific output on a wide number of fronts. Perhaps a little too much about Twitter, much as I love that particular channel!
  17. Great. It’s varied and insightful and interesting.

Please give your views on the frequency of publication for articles on the UK Web Focus blog

There were 16 responses:

  1. I tend to let things build up in Reader, then blitz it over a few hours.
  2. This blog is consistently thought-provoking and helps me to formulate my own ideas about the use of technology in libraries and HE. Definitely a leader in its field.
  3. Can’t always keep up with the frequency of the posts so occasionally miss some (if I’m behind on my RSS/Twitter)
  4. The frequency of posts is about right for me
  5. You’ve got it about right.
  6. The frequency feels about right to me.
  7. I dip in and out and read a bunch of articles at a time, rather than most every day as published, but publishing frequency is fine.
  8. Again frequency is fine
  9. The posts are frequent enough that I check daily – no pressure LOL!
  10. It’s OK.
  11. Just about right
  12. “about right”
  13. Probably wouldn’t be able to keep up if it were more frequent.
  14. I like the high frequency. It’s an impressive output, and gives the thoughts an up to the minute feel. It’s to Brian’s credit that he adds unthinking and value to very recent news, rather than simply regurgitating it like so many blogs.
  15. Could stand to be a bit lower frequency, or shorter posts. I often end up just skimming the longer posts.

Feel free to give any other comments or suggestions on the content of the blog.

There were eight responses:

  1. Thuis is the only Blog I read on a rugular basis
  2. I’m afraid I don’t read blogs as much as I used to – I could blame twitter or the number of other commitments I currently have…
  3. I like Brian :-)
  4. There’s a LOT of text on the home page – plus 4 other tabs which I’m sure I’ll never read.
    It’s none of my business, of course. But there’s a LOT of text.
  5. Don’t stop. This is a fabulous resource.
  6. Thank you for providing both informative and challenging posts over the last 4 years.
  7. How often do you comment on other blogs? Is it an important part of your practise?
  8. Sustainability is I think the elephant in the room of many IT services, including web-based ones. It needs more discussion. Brian always promotes accessibility also, which is very important and too easily ignored.
    The key benefit of this blog for me is that I think it’s the primary channel for web managers to discuss with each other. I rarely use email lists these days, and see greater benefit from a led discussion on blogs such as yours, with more free form heads-up messages happening via Twitter

Part 4: Other Comments

At a time when the sustainability of many services in the higher education sector are under threat your comments on the sustainability of this blog are welcomed.

There were eleven responses:

  1. This Blog is an extremely important focus/repository for Institutional web professionals as well as for those outside the educational sector.
  2. I hope you can find the resource to keep it going.
  3. I have followed this blog for about four years and it is consistently ahead of the game – without alienating me with too much “early adopter” zeal. I respect Brian’s judgement and if he mentions something I know I need to find out about it; so he acts as a filter for all the other tech info on the Web – and his impartiality is vital to this role (unlike, say, Wired who need to keep their sponsors on side). Who could we rely upon to do the horizon scanning for us without this blog?
  4. I think your policy is very sensible
  5. It’s more about the ‘sustainability’ of your job, isn’t it ? This is now a very personal blog, and it survives or not because you want to do it (and are able to do it.) The attention this blog generates for UKOLN’s activities are worth a great deal – buying that attention through more traditional forms of marketing would be very expensive. Seen that way, it’s easy to justify the effort that goes into it.
  6. I don’t think it matters where the blog is hosted and often this becomes transparent as RSS is the delivery mechanism for me. Your biggest overhead is you, how do you make your post sustainable or would to continue UK Web Focus regardless?
  7. I sustain my blog through use of free tools (Google Blogger, etc.) – but it’s not an official blog; i.e., it doesn’t represent an institution or organization. (I’m also interested in seeing how others use free tools.)
  8. Good question. You should maintain it no matter what, if only because it will be a major calling card when you apply for your next job.
  9. If you think communication is an important part of your role, and the keeping of an notebook something you need to do anyway, what’s the overhead?
  10. I think it is very sustainable! Cloud services are the apotheosis of server consolidation, and the data should be portable meaning the effort involved in re-use / archiving is as small as it can be currently.
  11. Wish I had a solution.

Note that the following respondents were willing to have their name and affiliation published:

  • Drew McConnell University of Glasgow
  • Mark Clowes, Faculty Team Librarian, University of Leeds
  • Alistair Grant, Australian Synchrotron
  • Kevin Ashley, DCC director
  • Jethro Binks, University of Strathclyde
  • Martin Hawksey JISC RSC Scotland N&E
  • Wendell Dryden, New Brunswick, Canada
  • Stephen Downes, National Research Council Canada
  • David Williams
  • heh heh;-)
  • Virginia Knight, ILRT, University of Bristol
  • Anthony Leonard, Acting Head of Web Services, University of York
  • Les Carr, University of Southampton
  • Christopher Gutteridge, University of Southampton
  • Jo Alcock, Evidence Base, Birmingham City University


One Response to “Blog Evaluation: November 2010”

  1. […] complete set of responses is available with a summary of the findings and accompanying discussions given […]

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