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E-mail survey results released

Feb. 20, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University is studying ways to improve e-mail service for the WMU community and recently conducted an online survey to help determine which features are most important to system users.

A total of 1,371 people participated in the survey, which was conducted Feb. 8-17. Of the total responding, 847 or 62 percent are students, 329 are staff members, 185 are faculty members and 25 are retirees. The student total includes 215 student employees, 88 graduate assistants and 15 students who are also staff members.

The one-page survey contained a list of 41 potential e-mail system features and asked survey participants to check those that are most important to them. The ability to send attachments topped the list of important features. It was cited by 91 percent of the survey participants. "Lets me access e-mail from anywhere" was second and cited by 86 percent of those responding.

A system that allows alumni to keep WMU e-mail for life has been discussed for more than a decade at the University. That feature was cited as important by 65 percent of respondents and finished 12th on the list. Another often requested option--the ability to automatically forward incoming messages to another e-mail account--was included on 61 percent of the surveys and finished 15th.

Ten most-cited e-mail features

1. Lets me send attachments with e-mail. (91% of respondents)
2. Lets me access e-mail from anywhere. (86%)
3. Effectively blocks spam and computer viruses. (84%)
4. Is well-designed to protect my privacy. (75%)
5. Lets me create address books with non-WMU addresses. (75%)
6. Has a lot of storage space for large files, lots of messages. (74%)
7. Is easy to use, with little or no training. (71%)
8. Spell-checks messages as I type them. (71%)
9. Lets me easily archive old messages. (71%)
10. Includes all students, faculty, staff in the same system. (67%)

Five least-cited e-mail features

37. Lets me share e-mail folders and documents with others. (31%)
38. Has an integrated instant messaging system. (30%)
39. Can automatically update my calendar on a mobile device. (28%)
40. Lets me reserve meeting rooms, projectors, other resources. (27%)
41. Lets me check my voice mail while using e-mail. (22%)

Even the least cited feature--the ability to check voice mail while using e-mail--was listed as important by more than one-fifth on those responding to the survey.

The complete list is available on the Web as a PDF file. Also available as a PDF file is compiled feedback from two demonstrations of MeritMail today (Feb. 20). Links to both are available at www.wmich.edu/oit/email-study.html.

For more information about the survey or the process for studying improvements in WMU e-mail service, contact Dr. James Gilchrist, vice provost and chief information officer, at james.gilchrist@wmich.edu or (269) 387-3855.

Media contact: Thom Myers, (269) 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

WMU News
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