June 8, 2005

Do-it-yourself Information

More than half of internet users seek do-it-yourself information online

Some 55% of adult internet users have looked for “how-to,” “do-it-yourself” or repair information online and roughly 1 in 20 internet users – about 7 million people — search for help on a typical day. The prevalence of this activity is yet another example of the many ways online Americans use the internet to gather practical information for their everyday lives.

More internet users seek do-it-yourself information online than participate in chat rooms (17% say they have done that) or online auctions (24% say they have done that). However, seeking do-it-yourself information online is a less common activity than getting news (72% of online Americans have done that) and doing research on products and services (78% have done that).

These new findings come from a national phone survey of 1,450 adult internet users by the Pew Internet & American Life Project conducted between February 21 and March 21, 2005. The margin of error for results based on internet users in the sample is plus or minus three points.

Using the internet as a go-to reference desk for “how-to” help naturally befits those who have “always-on” internet connections at their fingertips. More than two-thirds (69%) of internet users who have high-speed connections all around them (at both home and work) have sought “how-to” resources online. That compares to 61% of home broadband users and 55% of home dial-up users who seek do-it-yourself information.

Similarly, while 5% of all internet users will search online for do-it-yourself advice on a typical day, 11% of those who have high-speed connections all around them will seek some type of instructional information on an average day. That compares to 4% of home dial-up users and 7% of home broadband users.

Do-it-yourself research can take many forms and this survey did not attempt to break down the specific types of information people are seeking. The Alexa Traffic Rankings, which analyze website usage through a combination of visitor and page view measurement, list popular “Do-it-yourself” websites as a subcategory of the most-visited home-related sites on the internet. However, the DIY information available to internet users extends well beyond home improvement and gardening tips. For example, the top Alexa-ranked site in the DIY category (www.ehow.com) features “how-to” information on an wide array of topics such as computer repair information, alternative health treatments, recipes and financial advice.1

Demographic trends

Male internet users are somewhat more likely to seek “how-to” information online; 60% of online men have sought “how-to” instructions or information, compared with 50% of online women.

And younger internet users, who tend to have high-speed internet connections, are more likely to turn to the internet for DIY information. Some 59% of users under the age of 50 seek “how-to” information, compared with 47% of those over age 50 who do so.

Those users who have higher levels of education look for instructional or repair information in greater numbers; 58% of those with at least some college education seek do-it-yourself information online compared with 50% of those with a high school degree or less. However, there are no substantial variations according to household income for this activity.


About The Pew Internet & American Life Project

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a non-profit initiative, fully-funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts to explore the impact of the internet on children, families, communities, health care, schools, the work place, and civic/political life. The Project is non-partisan and does not advocate for any policy outcomes. For more information, please visit our website: http://www.pewinternet.org/.

  1. Alexa Traffic Ratings cited here were gathered on June, 6, 2005 and reflect currently available data. For more information on the Alexa ranking and traffic measurement methodology, please refer to the website here: www.alexa.com.