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One of the best ways to increase usability of your own product or website is to get feedback from your users. In this post I will focus on making sure you hear what your users are looking for from your web site. Users sometimes leave comments or contact you through your contact forms, but if you ask for feedback specifically you will get a greater response.
Cure Your Blindness
If you run your own website or if you design websites then you understand the concept of design blindness. If you look at a design and work on it for extended periods of time you tend to become numb to it. You need an extra set of eyes to perfect the aspects of your site, so why not ask the people who are actually using your site?
Do it on your own
There are a few ways to ask for feedback without using an outside service.
Embed a Video Clip
If you have access to a web cam, record a short video asking your users a question or two. Once you record the video you can place it in your sidebar or somewhere apparent on some of the top viewed pages of your site, like the index.
Your video could:
- Thank the user for visiting the site
- Explain that you’re looking for feedback and ask one to two specific questions
- Tell the user how to submit feedback, possibly by placing a link below to a submission page
Post an Announcement
If you run a website consider using a small text notification linking to a page that explains what kind of feedback you’re looking for, as well as a way to submit it. This could be an additional contact form specific to the feedback you’re looking for. If you are running a WordPress site then this task could be accomplished easily by making a new post, outlining what was mentioned above, and then asking for feedback in your comments!
Use an Online Service
There are also a number of online services that allow you to ask for user feedback. In some cases you may use some of the methods mentioned above to ask for comments and then use a service below to gather them together.
I am sure most of you have seen Get Satisfaction feedback tabs on websites. Get Satisfaction offers a tab to place on your site to offer a way to gather feedback. They also offers ways to implement feedback forms on your website. Skitch has a nicely integrated form to allow users to submit questions share an idea, report a problem, and start a discussion. Get Satisfaction offers free and premium packages.
User Voice is the method of feedback that Envato, a network of tutorial sites, market places, and more, offers 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 you to collect, analyze and manage your website visitor’s feedback. Their dialog box offers the 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 looks easy to complete. Best of all, it is free! Can you tell we like free?
There are many benefits of asking for feedback. Asking for feedback can grant you the following:
- Generate ideas from your users
- Cure frustration your users may be experiencing
- Make your users feel more important
Recently I had an eye opening example of feedback from a user. I run a website which a friend instant messaged me about. She suggested that I add classifieds to the site. After thinking about it, the integration of classifieds could be beneficial for myself and my users. I had never considered it before! My site had no place to submit feedback and therefore I may have missed other great ideas people have had! This suggestion has motivated me to look into ways to gather feedback and opened my eyes to just how valuable feedback can be.
How have you asked your users for feedback? If you have not, how do you plan to in the future? You may be surprised with what your users have to say!