Feedback report on the Research Autism Website
The purpose of this report is to analyse the feedback we received about the Research Autism website between July and December 2007 and to set out the actions we have taken, or intend to take, in response to that feedback.
During the period July - December 2007 we received feedback about the website from a number of sources including
- Online questionnaire, which was answered by 40 people
- Correspondence, including emails, received by staff of Research Autism
- Conversations held with the staff of Research Autism
The online questionnaire showed that
- Feedback came from a variety of audiences but most came from parents/carers (15) and service providers (11).
- The majority of users found it fairly easy (16) or very easy (18) to find things on the site.
- The majority of users found the information on the website fairly easy (12) or very easy (23) to understand.
- The majority of users found the information on the website fairly useful (14) or very useful (19).
- A small minority of users (4) found mistakes.
- The majority of users (25) thought the site was balanced and objective.
- The majority of users rated the site as fairly good (12) or very good (22).
- The majority of users thought the site was as good as (18) or better than other sites (10).
- The other site most visited by users was the National Autistic Society site (21).
The other feedback we received came from a range of sources and was mixed, with a range of positive and negative comments.
The Research Autism website is perceived by a majority of visitors as having a range of strengths including
- It is user-friendly, accessible, and written in plain English
- It is easy to navigate, enabling visitors to find what they are looking for quickly and easily
- The design is striking, modern and appealing
- It provides information and insight into autism and the problems faced by people with autism
- It provides a wealth of clear, practical and relevant information about a range of interventions
- The information it provides about interventions is measured and objective and that information is backed up by scientific research with access to online summaries of individual research studies
- It covers both sides of the story
- It has an 'earnest honesty, a desire to help, and it sounds trustworthy'
- The process for statements is rigorous and transparent
- The ratings system is clear and easy to understand
- It takes account of the views of a range of people, including people with autism, parents and carers, as well as the scientific community
- It keeps people informed about the latest, ongoing research
The website is perceived by a minority of visitors as having some weaknesses including
- Some people can't read the information on the site because of the colour combinations.
- The site is hard to navigate
- The site is too scientific and therefore appears to be aimed at professionals and academics rather than parents.
- The descriptions of autism and the issues faced by people with autism are negative and inaccurate
- The site has insufficient information about those interventions which interest parents most (e.g. biomedical) and which practitioners use most
- There is a lack of information about interventions for adults with autism
- The site has inaccurate and misleading information about some interventions, for example, facilitated communication, vitamin and mineral supplements
- There is a lack of evidence for some of the opinions on the site, for example, about the dietary and nutritional status of people with autism.
- There is a lack of detailed analysis of research studies, as you might find in a Cochrane review.
- There is a lack of information about the causes of autism.
- The content is not relevant to the needs of some individuals.
- Some information needs to be made more clear, for example, who the main funders of Research Autism are and what its relationship is with the National Autistic Society
- The site does not make it clear that Research Autism actively works to support and influence research direction and is highly practical in intent.
- The site does not simply and clearly list the past, present and future research actions of Research Autism
We have taken the following actions based on the feedback we have received to date.
- Increased the colour choices on the site to make it easier to read.
- Revised the text on the site to make it clearer that the site is aimed at a range of people, including parents, carers and service providers.
- Amended the navigation to make links to citations and other advanced materials more obvious so that users can see the rationale for some of our opinions.
- Provided information about more interventions, including those interventions which interest parents most. Please see the list of interventions for details of the interventions we have included.
- Added information about some interventions which are primarily aimed at adults, such as Advocacy, Social Skills Groups and Supported Employment
- Revised the text on the site to make it clearer that we actively work to support and influence research direction and are highly practical in intent. Please see the About Us section.
- Revised the text on the site to make our relationship with our funders more clear. Please see the About Us section.
- Amended information about some topics and provided research evidence where this was missing. For example, we have revised our entry on nutrition and provided links to the research studies we have identified on this topic.
- Provided some limited information about the causes of autism, bearing in mind that our remit does not actually cover causes.
We plan to take the following actions based on the feedback received to date.
- Talk to those respondents who said they found the navigation difficult in order to identify any specific problems they would like addressed.
- Review the Information about autism and problems faced by people with autism to ensure it is accurate and not unduly negative. We have already amended some of the text on the site, such as the overview of problems, but we still have some changes to make.
- Review the information about some interventions e.g. dietary supplements.
- Ensure that the website simply and clearly lists the past, present and future research actions of Research Autism. We believe that we already do this but we will review the Our Research section to see if this information can be made clearer.
We do not propose to take actions on the following feedback at present.
- Revise our opinion of some interventions, such as facilitated communication. Our opinion of these interventions is based on extensive research evidence. If and when that evidence changes, we will revise our opinion.
- Provide full style Cochrane discussions of studies. We can't resource this as it would require our subject experts to provide considerably more time than they do at present. Visitors interested in Cochrane-style reports are advised to visit the Cochrane Library website
- We accept that the site will not be relevant to the needs of some individuals. That is true of all websites. However we will do our best to try to meet the needs of our visitors, so long as those needs are compatible with our objectives as an organisation.
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- 22 Jun 2018