In November, the HATT moderators were asked by a list member to create a survey about current authoring tools. The survey was sponsored by HAT-Matrix.com. This post makes the results available (see the links at the bottom of the post).
The survey had seven questions:
- Where did you hear about this survey?
- How many years of experience do you have?
- What country do you work in?
- Please select the authoring tool(s) that you use on a regular basis to develop content. (The next question asks what other tools you have tried that you don’t use on a regular basis.)
- Please select the authoring tool(s) that you have tried within the last three years, but that you don’t use on a regular basis. You might have installed the trial version or maybe you changed from one tool to another.
- What types of content do you create?
- What types of output do you publish?
While looking at the results, I quickly identified some things to remember for the future:
- When asking people where they heard about the survey, it would be good to include some pre-defined options. For example, the list includes “HATT”, “HATT list”, “HATT Yahoo group”, “HATT digest”, “HATT mailing list”…you get the idea. It’s going to be tough to aggregate this information (not impossible, just tougher than it needed to be). (There are 295 individual entries.)
- More information needed to be provided for question 6 (What types of content do you create?). Several people added “online Help” (or some variation thereof) under Other in question 6. However, what I needed to clarify was that “online Help” wasn’t included because it is a delivery mechanism…it’s not a type of content.
- More information needed to be provided for question 7 (What types of output do you publish?). First, I’m going to ignore my goof in omitting Microsoft Word (no, I don’t know why I left it off!) and just apologize. (Everyone who took the survey managed to work around that omission…thanks!) But at least two of the labels should have used: “HTML Help (.chm)” and “HTML-based Help (sometimes named, like WebHelp)”.
As I watched the data accumulate, I was impressed by several things:
- Folks from 23 countries took the survey.
- The news about the survey was spread through emails, lists, blogs, and more. (I think we need a better mechanism for letting people know about these surveys, though.)
- Trial versions (at least, I’m assuming they were trial versions) are used a lot. (I’m thinking that a survey about trial versions might point out some interesting information. Let me know what you think.)
- “How-to (User)” placed first in the “types of content” question (raise your hand if you’re surprised). The other content types rounding out the top five were installation guides, reference guides, release notes, and training materials.
- The most impressive thing I saw? The top four types of output that are published are PDF for online access (72.9%), HTML Help (53.85%), Microsoft Word (48.08%), and black-and-white printed manuals (40.73%). (If you add the different types of PDF together, it far outranks the others.) Note that these aren’t the final percentages…as I mentioned above, “other” options included “.chm”, for example. The numbers will go up when you do the math.
It just amazes me that in the days of Web 2.0, PDF is still the most-published output.
OK, so what results are we making available? All of them. SurveyGizmo provides reports in PDF, Word, and Excel formats. However, the PDF has some issues…the list of countries is cropped and the graph legends overwrite each other. And the Word file drops the graphs completely (and badly formats the Countries table). The files that you can download are the raw data. (Disclaimer: the file at the “Authoring Survey Results (DOC) (reformatted)” has been…well…reformatted. No other changes were made.)
Now it’s up to you :-) I figure that these results are going to get spun…that’s the concept behind non-scientific surveys like this one. By providing the raw data, you can make your own decisions.
Enjoy :-) Feel free to leave comments and suggest future survey ideas!