Introduction and Summary


The Graphics, Visualization, & Usability Center's 5th World Wide Web User Survey was conducted from April 10 to May 10, 1996. The total number of responses was 11,700, about half the response rate of the 4th Survey. "Despite this drop in response rate, GVU's Surveys continue to be the largest Web-based survey both in number of responses collected and in number of questions asked." (GVU) Of these responses, 10.8 percent came from Europe, representing nearly every country in Europe. The GVU analysis on the European dataset treats Europe as a whole. The European WWW User Profiles divides Europe up in groups of countries with similar (losely defined) language and cultural traits, and analyzes these groups' general demographics: age, g ender, occupation, income, political affiliation, computing platform, Web site fee preference. While this analysis is much more limited than GVU's in terms of the number of questions that have been analyzed, it does give some insight into the differences between the regions within Europe.

Summary of Findings


The average age of European Web users decreased slightly during the last 6 months from 29.7 to 28.8. The youngest European Web users could be found in Scandinavia at 28, and the oldest in the Mediterranean region at 30.9.


Europe is still behind the U.S. as far as ending the male domination of the Internet. Whereas women make up 34.4 percent of the U.S. Web community, the percentage is only 15.2 in Europe. The strongest growth in a European region can be found in UK/Irela nd, where female participation has grown to 22 percent from 15 percent 6 months ago. In Austria/Germany/Switzerland the percentage of women remains relatively stagnant, up to 10 percent from 8 percent 6 months ago.


There is one striking contradiction in this category. Whereas the educational category has increased from 31 to 42 percent in Austria/Germany/Switzerland, it has decreased from 44 to 35 percent in Belgium/France/Holland during the same 6 months. One exp lanation is the domination of the Dutch respondents in the latter dataset. The commercial nature of Internet access in Holland is replacing the educational dominance much the same way it is in the U.S., a trend that is clearly not taking place in Germany (which dominates the former dataset).

Political Affiliation

This was the first time GVU asked the question of political affiliation. I have not made any assessment of the meaning of the European responses as the meanings of the terms "liberal" and "conservative" are different in the Europe than in the U.S.. I qu ote an old political science book for clarification: In continental Europe the word "liberal" stands for opposition to government regulation and planning and for something approaching laissez fair. Hence the European use of the term "liberal" correspo nds closely with the American concept of "conservative." (Neuman, Robert G., "European and Comparative Government," McGraw-Hill, 1955)

Computing Platform

This question was not analyzed in the last version of European WWW User Profiles. Windows dominates in Europe, but it is also interesting to note that Unix makes up 12 percent (19 percent in Austria/Germany/Switzerland) compared to only 4.4 in the U.S.. This is probably a result of the large online student community in Europe.


As European Web users are comparatively young, their incomes are lower as well. Overall, only 31.3 percent of European Web users make more than $50,000 a year. The greatest exception can be found in Scandinavia, where 38 percent makes more than $50,000.

Fee Preference

In general, Europeans are less resistant to the idea of paying for access to specific Web sites. There is a much greater "no" response in this survey compared to the 4th survey. Hower, this can be attributed to the change in the answer options, giving more realistic payment options. Subsctiption and pay-per-view are the most acceptable options in all regions.