Recently, a friend sent me a message about a website I run, suggesting that I add classifieds to the site. After thinking about it, I realized the integration of classifieds could be beneficial for myself and my users. Yet I had never considered it before! My site had no place to submit feedback and who knows what other great ideas I’ve missed from other people.
Anyone who works with websites understands the concept of design blindness. Looking at a design for two long makes us unable to see it objectively. In my case, my friend’s suggestion opened my eyes not only to a new idea, but also helped me see just how valuable feedback can be. In fact, one of the best ways to increase the usability of a product or website is to get feedback from the people who use it. We need to hear what users are looking for, what opinions they have, and what recommendations they can share.
Some users will proactively leave comments, or contact a site admin through contact forms, but specifically asking for feedback will get a far greater response. In this article we’ll look at both methods of asking for feedback directly, and ways to leverage third party sites.
The DIY options
There are a few ways to ask for feedback on a site or application without requiring an outside service. While it can feel daunting to take on another task, these suggestions are simple, and easy to implement.
Embed a Video Clip
Anyone with access to a web cam can record a short video asking users a question or two. Depending on how the site or app is set up, this video might live on a sidebar, or in an overlay.
A good feedback request should:
- Thank the user for visiting the site
- Explain why you’re looking for feedback
- Ask one or two specific questions
- Tell the user how to submit feedback, possibly by placing a link below to a submission page
If the site is one that users tend to return to frequently, make sure the video won’t become a nuisance. One option is to employ cookies to track when a user has already clicked on the call to action. Another option is to only display the video for a short period of time, and then remove it.
Post an Announcement
Another option to consider is using a small text notification to link to a feedback page. The feedback page will explain why the feedback is valuable, how it will be used, and how to actually submit it. Alternatively, the feedback page could be nothing more than a contact form, providing an outlet for users who want to share their ideas.
If these ideas seem obvious, it’s because they should be! They’re easy to implement, making the more difficult part sorting through and choosing the appropriate feedback to take into consideration.
Third party options
Some sites are complex enough that adding a request for feedback is too much work to consider. For those situations, there are a number of online services to help. The great thing that these services can do is compile the feedback, and make it easier to view and use later on.
The Get Satisfaction feedback tabs are a common site across websites. Get Satisfaction is a company that creates “online customer communities,” by way of a tab to place on a site, which draws attention and allows people to share their thoughts. They offer free and premium packages.
User Voice is the method of feedback that Envato, a network of tutorial sites, market places, and more, chose for its users. User Voice allows users to submit ideas and then vote on them. Each user is allowed 10 votes. Once a topic is closed, users votes will be returned and they can use them again. User Voice offers free and premium packages.
I noticed Skribit while browsing Lost and Taken, a site that offers high quality textures. Skribit provides a content suggestion service helping bloggers discover relevant topics to write about from their readers. Lost and Taken uses it as a feedback system that allows users to submit a suggestion then vote on suggestions already submitted. While talking to Caleb of Lost and Taken he also comments that their customer service is top notch. To top if off, Skribit is free!
Kampyle for Websites allows site owners to collect, analyze and manage their visitor feedback. It’s simple: the dialog box offers users a choice of 5 smilies to rate how they feel about the site, ranging from angry to very good. They then ask for a feedback topic ranging from bug, site content, suggestion, compliment, or other. The form is simple and easy to complete. And, like Skribit, it’s free.
Get the feedback, get the benefits
Asking for feedback is a fantastic way to:
- Generate ideas from users
- Cure frustrations that users may be experiencing
- Make users feel more important
All of those are reasons to get started. Find out what users think!
During my years in an agency, I've seen the spectrum of tool experimentation. I've heard passionate user experience designers argue in favor (and equally as often, against) Axure, Balsamiq, UXPin, Invision, Photoshop, you name it. We've tried it. Usually, the outcome is something out of Goldilocks and the Three Bears: the tool is too robust, or too simplistic, too slow, or too buggy, and no one's happy.