A few weeks ago we asked you for your thoughts, via a short survey, on the Transition Culture blog. We thought we would share the responses with you, as well as some reflections on what we might do about them. In total 56 of you responded, and we’re very grateful for your input. So, the first question was how long people have read the blog for …
Key outcome here is that most readers have been with us for a while, with only a handful, 19%, having read it for anything less than 3 years. Clearly some work to do here getting new readers in, although always reassuring to know that longer-terms readers are sticking around!
We also wanted to know who people were who were reading the blog. Were they active in Transition?
By far the majority, 75%, were active Transitioners. We recently introduced monthly themes, so the next question wanted to know whether this was working for people or not:
Nobody said they didn’t like it, and 73.36% said it worked for them. We also asked for suggestions for new themes. Suggestions included values, bioregional economies, wellbeing vs GDP, partnering with others to develop Transition (which is, oddly, our first theme for 2015!), “business skills for hippy dippies”, successful ways to engage, inspire, and keep volunteers energized, “Localisation – to cover, link all the themes and talk in an integrated way”.
Next we wanted to know whether we are drowning people in too much content, too little, or just right:
We were relieved to see that only 1.82% found it “completely overwhelming”, while 56.36 found it “about right”. Comments included “mostly about right, but on occasions i cannot keep up” and “only look from time time. So don’t know”. Only a rather masochistic 9.09% felt there “could be more” content. Fortunately nobody felt it to be “disappointingly low”. We would have felt a bit concerned for them.
Next we looked at the actual articles we post:
72.22% felt the current length of articles to be “about right”, and 14.81% felt them to be too long. Comments included “a good mix of heavy and light stuff”, “not focussed enough on real action”, “I enjoy the variety”, “a bit long when it’s not your mother language”, “i enjoy the personal perspectives sometimes, the range of topics and interviews. Appreciate having transcriptions as well as recordings, as I can’t always listen”, “see that for many it’s probably about right but I’d like to see more concrete detail and evaluation” and “a pleasingly diverse mix of academic, personal view and political”.
Every month we spend days creating our ‘Round Up of What’s Happening Out in the World of Transition’ feature. We always wonder, as is generates so few comments, whether anyone actually reads it. So we asked:
23.64% always read it, and 58.18% sometimes read it. We plan for 2015 to shake this up a bit, more detail to follow in the New Year. Then we asked people what they like reading:
Most popular were interviews, case studies and practical tips, and least popular were videos (which I thought was interesting), The Transitioners’ Digest and guest blogs. The video thing was interesting because much of the accepted wisdom web-wise is that everyone’s attention spans are shot to bits, and given the Facebook-isation of everything, videos are the way to go. But clearly you lot aren’t that bothered. Which is kind of heartening.
Lastly we asked for your thoughts on what else we could do to improve the site for you. Here’s a selection of the responses:
- It very important to be active doing stuff! However after reading George Marshall’s book Don’t Even Think About It And others we need to find better ways of changing the publics mind set.
- While I’ve ticked lots of answers which suggest that I view the blog positively I don’t read it at as much as I used to. I now visit once every few weeks, maybe once a month, just have a quick look through and read anything that catches my eye. Previously I would visit regularly, often daily, ‘what is Rob thinking about today?’. Now I think it is much less personal and perhaps that is why I treat it more like an information source. I am not keen on the presentation/layout but I’m afraid I can’t tell you why – it is clearly just emotional!
- The blog is really my cup of tea but I would find it most interesting to read about difficulties that arise in the work of transition initiatives and what you can learn from them.
- Local Government councillors experience of Transition initiatives, positive and negative.
- I think it is pretty good as it is. Plenty of evidence based argument.
- Interestingly (well, interesting to me!) I moved away from reading the blog so much when it felt like it was less of an immediate response by Rob to what is happening, and became more themed. Now this is probably not true for anyone else (and I’m sure Rob has not changed his style!) but just thought I’d feed in the feeling that a sense that a blog is one person’s immediate response to the world (e.g. Lesley Riddoch’s podcasts) may be the crucial ingredient (apart from excellence, which is already a key ingredient!)
- The blog is great – it’s mostly just that I don’t have enough time to read it! Not sure what you can do about that!
- Fine as it is
- I am retired and the blog takes longer than I can fit in, fantastic blog but help me find the time.
- The amount and type of articles changes month by month. It might be an idea to have one post every three days.
- I preferred it without the guest blogs when it was just Rob writing under Transition culture. I used to read it more then but now very rarely look at it. I liked the personal aspect and am less keen on the “Transition speaking” approach now (but as I don’t read it much any more, I may not really know how it works these days).
- Shorter articles are more accessible from my point of view. And not too much criticism – it’s better when it’s quite upbeat and more “transitiony” ie about solutions, positive things we can do, things that can inspire all of us to keep going in our Transition work and better understand why we are doing it, and how we can make a difference.
- I preferred it as Transition Culture. simpler, clearer, easier to search for past articles. easier to point people to as it does not have background distractions that may not be relevant or right tone for some readers. Most of all TN site sign-up baffles me. too many passwords in my life!
- Perhaps a regular (weekly?) links section to articles from around the web that the authors found interesting/illuminating
- The blog is great. The frequency could be reduced slightly with a reduction in workload for Rob/the team.
- It’s always a good read. Prefer non activist topics that don’t alienate
- Works for me 🙂
- The best articles are the ones written with passion and integrity. They are often very insightful and thought provoking.
- I read at least 80% of what you write so feels like it’s just right to me! Thank you for keeping it up so consistently Just fine as is, keep putting it out, keeps us connected.
- Not sure it can be improved for me… thanks Rob
- Keep it coming! i like that you include your personal experience at times, Rob, as in the review of This Changes Everything. It’s good to read about how you and other bloggers sustain passion and energy.
- Could improve typography and design and try maybe delivering entire post to my inbox.
- Focus on in-depth quality content rather than volume
- More follow up on tricky and broad issues ?
It’s very useful to stop and reflect in the way a survey like this allows. First thing to say is it’s important not to read to much into it, given that the sample of respondents was so small. Secondly, there are a few changes we’ll be making to the site in the New Year. We’ll be giving themes two months, to give them a bit more space to breathe. We’ll be introducing some more magazine-style features, such as our ‘Transition Agony Aunt’ feature (any questions to send her?) and our ‘One Minute Reviews’.
As our Communications Strategy comes together, we hope that that will address some of the issues around attracting new readers to the blog. We will have an announcement early in the New Year about how we are going to re-imagine the monthly Round Up. In terms of those who still long for Transition Culture’s original WordPress format, we willbe redesigning TransitionNetwork.org during 2015, so your comments are very useful for that discussion.
There is much here that we will reflect on over the coming weeks and months, that will really help to shape what we create for the blog in 2015. We’d like to thank everyone who chipped in and shared their thoughts.