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Published November 03 2014

2014 Reader’s Survey

by Ted Whang

A few months ago we asked our readers what they thought about the magazine, and we’ve used their responses to improve the new issue.

From the beginning Works That Work has been as much about the community that crowdfunded it into existence (and that continues to support it) as about the subjects it covers. So with three issues behind us, a fourth at the printer’s, and fifth in the works, it seemed logical to get the readers’ feedback on what we’ve done so far. As of the time of this writing there have been 171 responses to our reader’s survey, which was sent to subscribers and single-issue purchasers.

As could be expected, respondents voiced a number of widely varying opinions, but there were also some clear trends that will help us to guide future development of WTW. A few broad statistics to start with:

• Nearly 90% of respondents read WTW in its hardcopy edition. Only 10% read it on their tablets or phones, and another 4% read it online. This at a time when print has been declared dead or dying.
• Nearly three quarters of respondents prefer subscribing to buying individual issues.
• Most respondents spend 2–3 hours reading an issue, but 15% spend over 5 hours.
• Over 60% of respondents share their copy with other people, and the average pass-on readership is 3.2 people per copy. This doesn’t include digital editions, from which individual articles are shared by the thousands. (And digital subscribers aren’t the only ones who can share articles online. Did you know that each article in the printed edition comes with a unique URL that you can share with your friends?)

Perhaps the most surprising results of the survey concerned questions which included ‘I had no idea that…’ as a possible answer. Out of the 171 respondents, 32% had no idea that there was a WTW blog, 41% didn’t know that they could share article links with friends, and 51% didn’t know that subscribers get exclusive monthly content (which they can access by logging into their accounts).

Being pleasantly surprised by content, and discovering new things were the dominant answers to the question of why people choose to read the magazine.

Although a few respondents say that WTW is the only magazine they read, most are apparently voracious readers, listing over 230 other magazines that also get their reading time. Most often mentioned were Eye and Monocle, followed by The New Yorker and Wired, and Apartamento, Colors, Offscreen and National Geographic.

We were pleased to find out a bit about our readers. Most respondents chose architecture as their main interest, followed by design, music, art, typography, food and travel. Most work in design, interaction, education, architecture and engineering (in that order), and their average age is 37, just slightly below ours.

Happily, the overwhelming response to the question ‘Is there something we can improve?’ Was ‘No, keep going!’ Other popular responses included the mutually exclusive ‘More pages/articles/issues per year’ and ‘Lower price’. A fair number of readers asked questions about things we’ve covered in the blog, but it’s good to know that other people care about these things as much as we do.

All in all, it was very helpful to read through the survey results, and you’ll see them reflected in the upcoming Issue 4. (Photo captions, for example, are larger.) While we cannot afford to reduce the price of the magazine, we have now made the shipping completely free, which will hopefully make the project more affordable. We’ve been continually increasing the number of pages per issue, and we’ll keep learning from your feedback.

More than half of the respondents say they would like to be more involved with the magazine, and half of those would like to suggest ideas for contributions. This is great, as we’re always looking for new topics. In our blog we have outlined what we look for, and how to go about becoming a contributor, so please do send us your proposals. For those who would like to get involved in a different way, here are some suggestions.

This survey is closed now, but of course your further input is welcome, because this is a magazine we do for you, and while we can’t please everyone, we will continue to do our best to make this a magazine that you want to read and share with your friends.

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