A winning use of online research

The advent of desktop publishing software back in the 1980s brought about the promise that “you, too, can design your own ads, fliers and brochures.” Those who bought into that promise discovered that it wasn’t the technology that was standing in the way of their DIY design dreams; it was the skills that graphic designers have that the rest of us don’t.

Online research made a similar splash, with the promise of inexpensive (and, in some cases, even free), easy-to-use tools that would allow you to quiz your patrons as much as you’d like. But, those who tried to use online tools to gauge general patron opinion discovered rather quickly that non-parent patrons stayed away in droves. There simply was no reason for them to take the time, go to the district’s website, find the survey and complete it.

But, the tool remains a viable option for what we call “captive audiences,” such as staff, parents and students. Case in point: The four-day school week research project Patron Insight just completed for the Douglas County, Nevada School District.

Online surveys were created for parents, staff members and students, with many questions being shared (with modest changes of wording) among the three surveys. Parents went to the website – with some encouragement from the district – staff members received an e-mail link, and students completed the survey in the computer lab during school hours.

The response rates were more than acceptable, and the district has the information it needs to make decisions from the only people whose opinions on the subject matter.