Feedback report on the Research Autism Website 2010


Survey The purpose of this page is to report on the feedback we received about the Research Autism website between October and November 2010 and to set out the actions we have taken, or intend to take, in response to that feedback.

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to tell us what they thought - sometimes in very thoughtful and helpful detail.

If you have not already told us what you think about this site and you would like to do so, please email info@researchautism.net


During the period October-November 2010 we received feedback about the website from a number of sources including

  • Online questionnaire, which was answered by 116 people
  • Correspondence, including emails, received by staff of Research Autism
  • Conversations held with the staff, trustees and scientific advisors at Research Autism

Key findings

  • Feedback came from a variety of audiences but most came from service providers (38.3%) and parents/carers (33.9%)
  • The majority of users found it fairly easy (63.1%) or very easy (21.6%) to find things on the site.
  • The majority of users found the information on the website fairly easy (54.9%) or very easy (35.4%) to understand.
  • The majority of users found the information on the website fairly useful (23.7%) or very useful (71.9%).
  • The majority of users thought the site was balanced and objective (70.4%).
  • The majority of users rated the site as fairly good (35.1%) or very good (61.4%).
  • The majority of users thought the site was as good as (43.5%) or better than other sites (26.1%).

Perceived strengths

The Research Autism website was perceived by a majority of visitors as having a range of strengths including that it was comprehensive, up to date, impartial and scientifically rigorous.

Individual comments included

  • 'It's very easy and clear to use. The design is clear and uncluttered - quite autism-friendly.'
  • 'Lots of good relevant information I would not find elsewhere.'
  • 'It is regular and updated frequently and friendly to use'
  • 'It gives information on new research worldwide and does not give any opinion. It is left to the reader to make up their own minds'
  • 'I know that the information provided is rigorous and up-to-date.'
  • 'Impartiality of information, clearly presented, scientifically tested evidence for/against particular interventions.'
  • 'Regular updates on the latest research to keep me aware and ensure I practice with an evidence base.'
  • 'Very useful if you need an objective and up-to-date overview of autism related issues.'

Perceived weaknesses

The website was perceived by a minority of visitors as having some design weaknesses including that it needed a more helpful internal navigation, a better internal search engine, and more audio visual elements e.g. photos and videos.

Some people felt that the tone and the language were rather too academic while others thought they were not academic enough. Others identified subject gaps e.g. interventions not yet covered.

Other Comments

  • 'There is so much on there it's mind blowing'
  • 'Good range of information and information that I am not aware of being stored elsewhere'
  • 'Lots of information in one place - cuts down on searching for hours'
  • 'I particularly like the different levels of information - great for a quick answer about an intervention or a more in-depth study of a topic'
  • 'Balanced information based on research - a welcome change to extreme websites advocating a range of untested interventions'
  • 'As a non-professional mother of an autistic adult I find it very encouraging to know that so much research is going on.'
  • 'It gives me hope for the future'


Since receiving the feedback we have undertaken the following improvements

  • Changed the layout of the the Home page, reducing the amount of text and adding more graphics to make it easier to find key things faster.
  • Improved the search engine by merging the three search boxes into one, putting the search box at the top of every page and ensuring it can find search terms with only three letters e.g. ABA.
  • Began the process of ensuring key terms are included in the Glossary so as to provide a single alphabetic list of subjects as an alternative navigation system.
  • Began the process of adding more internal links from within the text of each page so as to provide an alternative navigation system from within each page.
  • Began process of adding user-friendly website addresses (URLs) for some of the pages
  • Added the ability to bookmark/integrate every page on the website with social media via an AddThis link at the top of every page, including this one
  • Added photos and other graphics to most pages on the site, including this one, to make them more visually appealing
  • Created a You Tube channel to show our videos with links from every page on the site. We plan to add more videos when we can.
  • Added a prominent link to Latest Autism Research from every page to make it easier to see that research
  • Added information about more interventions
  • Removed unnecessary duplications in the news section, concentrating on the more scientific sources.
  • Added more links to full text articles where we could find them - such as 'Cheuk D., Wong V., Chen W.(2011). Acupuncture for autism spectrum disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews CD007849'
  • Added more international articles e.g. from Australia - such as 'Carter M. et al. (2011). Interventions used with an Australian sample of preschool children with autism spectrum disorders . Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 5(3), pp. 1033-1041'
  • Improved the What's New section of the site by including updates on intervention entries and website developments.

We had already undertaken the following improvements before receiving feedback

  • Enabled visitors to view and print the whole of a document rather than having to go through several steps to see the information. We do this via the Print/View link at the top of every page including this one.
  • Created a dedicated events page
  • Created a list of which tests should parents ask GPs to conduct in order to assess the child, based on research
  • Provided information about the individuals who make the judgements on various interventions

We plan to undertake the following improvements in the future - as and when resources allow

  • Improve the search engine further by integrating it with the publications search engine, enabling boolean logic - searches using AND, NOT etc - and linking it to glossary terms.
  • Improve the internal navigation by providing a set of consistent links at the left hand side of every page. We already have some links on some pages but not across the site as a whole.
  • Add information about more interventions of all kinds
  • Provide better categories for some interventions e.g. health, education to make it easier to find relevant information.
  • Rewrite some pages in plain English so that they are easier to understand.
  • Build the information for each topic into a set of PDF booklets for downloading.
  • Provide a coded format for the individual studies that includes design, participant, method, outcome, results and quality assessments.
  • Expand the links available. We already have more than 1,000 links but we will add more links as appropriate.

We have decided not to undertake the following improvements that were suggested for the following reasons

  • Make the font size bigger. The font size on the website is already bigger than most other websites. However if you want to make it bigger you can do so via the access functions at the top of each page or by visiting the access page
  • Provide different sections for different audiences e.g. people on the spectrum, parents / carers and professionals. We do not think it is appropriate to tell people which section of the website they should or should not visit. However we will do more to ensure that the existing versions of the site - basic, intermediate and advanced - are written with a variety of audiences in mind.
  • Provide a list of all UK autism causation/intervention research that is ongoing, irrespective of who is funding it or doing it. Unfortunately we don't have the resources to do this, although it is a great idea.
  • Provide information on which genes/SNPs have been linked to autism and build this up over time. Unfortunately we don't have the resources to do this, although it is a great idea.
  • Provide a subscriber service so that research documents can be accessed directly. Unfortunately we don't have the resources to do this, although it is a great idea.
  • Provide information on food allergies and how to test them. This is outside our remit.

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22 Jun 2018