In August 2022 I released a questionnaire to members of my newsletter asking for feedback and answers to questions that have been on my mind. Since this site is a one man show and a massive work in progress I was curious about what people currently found useful and where they might want the site to go. I got a couple dozen responses, less than 1% of the newsletter’s readership and about 0.002% of the average monthly visitors, but the results were helpful and interesting.
First, was – What do you want to see more of? Unsurprisingly, newsletter subscribers said more newsletters! And what features heavily in newsletter updates? In second, the 2-3 researched articles that I usually pull off each year. Movies comes in third, while social media and ‘all of the above’ rounded out the options. I also had a write in choice which got a few responses that were more personal feedback. Ideally, I’m gung-ho for ‘all of the above’ but in practice I really am limited in time and tend to be streaky in pulling each off. Newsletters for a couple months in a row, 10 movies in 10 days, post on social media every couple days for a week or two, but rarely does this side project fire on all cylinders. Good to acknowledge and this lets me focus just a bit more.
I get emails pretty regularly asking about hiking groups and if I ever lead guided hikes/paddles. I haven’t done one since 2019, but I’m glad to see the vast majority are at least interested and likely would attend if the location and time worked for them. This led into my next question.
I hike all around the state, but obviously it’s easier to hike closer to home which means the northeast part of the map is way more complete than southwest where the drive time is greater than an hour. I was curious if I needed to shift my focus to better reflect my readership, but I was happy to see it came out pretty even. Likely the heavier northeast and slimmer southwest is exactly due to the above, more locations in the NE means more opportunities to come across the site and vice versa for the SW.
I’ve been floating the idea of a membership for over a year now as a way to push this site to the next level. I’ve got a list of ideas and was curious which would be most valuable. Seasonal Primers came out on top, but not by much over modules or a community space. In fact, community space had the lead for most of the poll. My personal favorite, the gamified version of the site came in last, which is probably for the best since it is the most difficult to pull off. If you’re paying for it, I want to deliver the best possible version I can so I’m going to keep working on them until they meet standard.
I find exploreCT.org useful but I wish it had…
- Several answers were some version of just More! – More places, more history, more detail, more links!
This is why I consider everything on this site a rough draft. Often my first attempt at writing up a location is pretty surface level and will later come across new information, a new connection, or just take a deeper dive and will revisit to add more. This is a years long project for me and I fully expect to edit and add to every page on the site multiple times, I expect very few pages will ever be ‘complete’. Really this is just a good kick in the butt for me, you want more? I’ll give you more!
- Several answers were features from the paid membership ideas
These answers restated or fleshed out what people wanted from the membership features with some ideas to tweak or dial in.
- I hike with a vision impaired person. I would love continued detailed info on trail footing – is it smooth? Grassy? Root-y? Rocky?
This is such a simple thing that I don’t do regularly, but exactly the specific feedback I’m looking for. All new locations should mention trail footing in the hiking section now and as I edit older pages I’ll work it in. Thank you!
My last question was what was the next place I absolutely had to explore. I intended for it to allow you to suggest places to me but instead I was delighted to get a bunch of responses that were locations you wanted to explore! Interesting to see reader’s personal connections to locations they wanted to explore and learn more about.
Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out the questionnaire. Engaging with fellow explorers is one of my favorite parts of working on this site and so getting to hear from you has a big impact on how this site operates and where it could go! Thank you.