Increasing Usability with User Feedback

This post suggests some ways to improve your sites usability based off of user feedback. These methods and programs will help you gather and act on user feedback.

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

videoImage by endlessstudio

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

suggestionsPSDTUTs, a photoshop tutorial website, asks users for feedback in their footer.

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.

Get Satisfaction

get-satisfaction

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

user-voice

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.

Skribit

skribit

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

kampyle

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?

Benefits

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

In closing

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!

About the Author

Matthew Kammerer

Matthew sells advertising by day and keeps frogs by night. He was introduced to the world of user experience through his UX Booth cofounders and knew there needed to be a publication to learn through sharing.

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13 Comments

  • David Hamill Reply

    I’d really discourage anyone from adding features because users have asked for them. Many of my past clients have fallen into this trap. Remember that users aren’t designers and designers aren’t users.

    Also remember the first rule of usability.
    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20010805.html

  • Andrea G Reply

    I think the point that Matthew is trying to make is not that you should do everything that your users demand but to get an IDEA of what they want. They are the ones using the site after all and they might have a different perspective as the user. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. But the only way to find out what they think, you have to ask! I think if a user is prompted for feedback and they really enjoy the site, they will really try to brainstorm some good ideas for you that you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.

    Great post Matthew!

  • Dmitry Reply

    Sorry, totally off-topic, but … anyone know what font that Skribit logo is using? :)

  • Matthew Kammerer Reply

    @David Hamill: Good read, thanks for the link. Just as your link states though it is important to realize “When and How to Listen”. I think feedback could be useful, sometimes implementing and other times not. Even if you get suggestions you do not agree with it may help you change the direction you are going with your site.

    @Andrea G: Thanks :)

  • Andrew Maier Reply

    @David Hamill: I hate to take issue such a trusted source but I have to say that listening to your users is always valuable. Most of the time, they respond because they care. It should be said that user feedback should not affect project scope, however. Take your users at their word. Although they say isn’t written in stone, you should always lend an ear to your users who are vocal about your product.

  • Dan Rogers Reply

    Matthew this is a great list. Thanks. I really liked the Kampyle solution because of it’s simplicity and the fact that there is no need to wash the dirty laundry publicly.

  • Matthew Kammerer Reply

    @Dan Rogers: Thanks for the comment! I really was interested in the emotion icon rating system. I had fun researching them all. :)

    • Janie Graham Reply

      I just think it’s awesome that there is an emoticon rating system. What a great way to see how well your users can navigate your awesome site!

  • u3schools Reply

    HI…..
    Any best idea for getting user feed back by using third party tools?

    In u3 schools ( Http:u3schools.com ) they are using the single glass button on right down in the browser.
    How to make look like this?

    thanking you.

  • hydenrich Reply

    hi…
    u can check the view source on the browser at http://u3schools.com.
    May be u can get idea about that how can do like that.
    advance wishes. :)

  • hermes kelly bag Reply

    Any best idea for getting user feed back by using third party tools?

    In u3 schools ( Http:u3schools.com ) they are using the single glass button on right down in the browser.
    How to make look like this?

    thanking you.

  • Pavel Reply

    there is another option – use online support messenger like p3chat

  • jp web design Reply

    I definitely agree. Listening you your users is invaluable. I think giving them what they want without damaging the functionality, and brand of the web design is just fine. But, just because one user wants it doesn’t mean you should implement it for everyone.

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