Answers to my questions
During and after our recent student portfolio show there was a lot of conversation about why the attendance was relatively low. Fewer than fifty people attended our two four-hour sessions, and many were family and friends. There was a lot of speculation as to why there weren't more people, and some students seemed to think it was the location, an artists' loft building in downtown Cleveland. I've noticed that many of our suburban students view anything outside the Parma city limits as a foreign land to be avoided at all costs.
I, on the other hand, think that having the show at E. 25th and Superior made it quite convenient for many of the nearby web design firms. Since we could speculate forever and not make any progress, I signed up for a free Basic account at SurveyMonkey.com and wrote a five-question survey to send to people on our mailing list who we'd hoped would attend. It took me about an hour to create the survey and cut and paste 93 email addresses from our Google Doc spreadsheet that we used as a mailing/email list.
Within 24 hours I'd gotten 27 responses, a pretty good return rate. Here are the questions I asked of people who did not come to the show:
- Did you plan to attend the Tri-C Student Portfolio Show but forgot or had to change your plans?
- If you never planned to attend, why not? (six possible answers plus space for added comment).
- Did you visit the show website, www.GreenerHere.com (I hoped to interest a few people in visiting the site simply by asking the question—web stats later showed it netted us eleven new visitors).
- If you visited the site, grade it (six possible answers plus space for comment).
- What can be do to entice you to attend next year? (three possible answers plus comment).
- 72% never planned to attend. Many said they didn't recall seeing an invitation.
- About 40% said the dates/times were not convenient. Only 10% were unhappy with the location.
- Only 20% had visited the website. The ones who had picked as most valuable the links to students' websites.
- Rating the website, everyone scored show information and student information Good or Excellent, while the video and visual design scored lower, 30% Fair or Poor.
- To get them to attend next year, 64% asked for a more convenient day/time, while 21% opted for a different location (a couple of specific requests for East Side).
Reading over the comments it seems pretty clear that any dates might give similar results: people mentioned a variety of conflicts that came up that could happen on any date. One or two people indicated that Friday and/or Saturday was not good because those are family times, something that never occurred to me. Maybe midweek would be better?
The fact that many of the respondents said they hadn't gotten an invitation despite the fact that we mailed one to everyone on the list, and a second to fifty "A" list companies who we really hoped to see may mean that we have bad information on our list. More likely, though, they got the invitation but it didn't cut through the clutter of junk mail that everyone receives daily. It may be the visual design or the "Grass is Greener Here" theme that didn't get noticed.
So there's definitely food for thought in the survey results. One definite conclusion: for a free service, SurveyMonkey is a darn good deal. Very easy to use and even the basic version provides lots of useful information.