We’ve received emails over the years from researchers asking if they can publish their work with us, asking us if we can send them articles on a particular topic, and if we can help launch a journal.

We’ve receive regular feedback from our supporters and stakeholders on how DOAJ is a help or a hindrance in their discovery systems, how DOAJ adds value to library portals, and how we could improve our metadata.

Very occasionally, we receive emails from desperate authors who want to get their research back from a questionable journal, or who want to have their name removed (or added) to an article.

One of the things that we have never done before in detail is find out what our normal, everyday users think of our service. Do they go away happy or disgruntled?

Who is a normal, everyday DOAJ user?

The largest age bracket of users is between 18 and 24 years old (42%) and 67% of those identify as female. 62% of all DOAJ users identify as female. (Google Analytics is problematic here as it only offers binary gender options.)

Most of our users live in North America, U.K., Indonesia, Australia, Brazil and China.

Overwhelmingly, they use Chrome (which they or someone doesn’t update regularly) from a computer and Android on their phone. Many of them have an iPhone and an iPad. Just over half of our users have English set as their default browsing language, although some use Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish and Indonesian.

We’re slowly building up an image of our users. Much of that work was started by our designer when she created personas to inform our user experience and design.

Instant feedback

When we launched the new site, we added a Hotjar app which collects feedback from users, if they choose to submit it. We have been tracking how satisfied our users are. These are, hopefully, users that we wouldn’t normally hear from. I have to be honest here: we expected to get feedback on the design and functionality of the site. What we have had back has been very different.

55% of the people leaving feedback either “liked” or “loved” their experience with us. Hotjar provides a screenshot of the page they were on. It is usually a specific article page, although many leave feedback on the homepage. 18% of the users are “neutral” about their experience. 28% of the users either “disliked” or “hated” their experience.

From the comments coming in, we can see that, overwhelmingly (30 out of 39), users that “hated” their experience couldn’t find content that they were looking for, or thought that the content they found was poor.

Content availability and quality is king when it comes to user satisfaction.

Many of them couldn’t find what they were looking for, not because our search engine is poor, but for two main reasons:

  1. The content doesn’t exist in our database
  2. The user searched in a language other than English

Being able to search in your first language is important. Our database in based on the English language. This is clearly a problem for a global service like ours and we need to address this. In the meantime, we can improve messaging on the site to alert users that they must search in English.

That content doesn’t exist in our database is also something we are trying to address. How do we make it painless for publishers to give us content? Can we, in fact, go and collect content? These are questions that we need to ask ourselves over the coming year.

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