There are few things more important to website or application success than incorporating user feedback. It used to be time consuming and resource-intensive to do this well (think of the traditional usability labs), but now it is amazingly easy to collect customer feedback quickly and inexpensively.

If you haven’t done so already, explore one of the following ways of incorporating user feedback:

  1. Social media feedback
  2. On-site feedback features
  3. Online surveys
  4. In-house usability testing

Social Media Channels

Most likely you have one or more social media accounts associated with your organization and its online presence.  You may already be using your accounts to get feedback on your business, its products or services. You can take this a step further by creating one or more posts that encourage users to give you feedback on your website or application.  Make it more fun for everyone – reward the first 10 (or 15 or 20) users to give you feedback with a free product or promotional offering (and show a picture of it on the post).  Set a deadline and count down to the deadline.

On-site Feedback Features

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Feedback features like this one allow collection of a wide variety of open-ended comments from users

Feedback features – usually launch via a button on the side or bottom of the screen – are handy tools for on any site.  Feedback widgets usually trigger a short form of some kind, and allow open-ended feedback on your site or application.

I’ve talked with some managers and business owners who are afraid to install feedback buttons because they’re afraid they’ll actually get too much feedback!  We should all have such problems. As long as the feedback is legitimate, and not SPAM, collecting it provides a great way of taking the temperature of your customers.  If you find SPAM to be a problem, protect against it by by utilizing Captcha-type features.  This is not a problem for sites with logins, obviously.

Online Surveys

Customer surveys can take many forms.Participation is most often solicited via eNewsletters. A very common and effective way to measure customer satisfaction is a multiple-choice rating format, with some open-ended comments at the end of the survey. If you’re already doing a Customer Satisfaction annual survey, and your main business is not conducted via the Web (i.e., you’re a brick and mortar retailer), it’s a good idea to add some questions about your website on the survey, so your design/development team can make tweaks.

Survey Monkey is an example of a popular survey tool that makes these customer feedback particularly easy.  They have numerous built-in templates that can be customized.  They also make the process of cataloguing and analyzing survey feedback very simple.

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Online tools like Survey Monkey make the process of creating surveys particularly seamless

In-House Usability Testing

One of the most overlooked tools for getting feedback on the ease-of-use of an application or website is in-house usability testing (often called “Cafeteria Testing”).

The process is very similar to lab-based usability testing, but you set up in the cafeteria or break room or somewhere out-of-the way. You invite a sample of users from within your organization (concentrating on those who have little knowledge of your project under development). Ask them to perform a set of between 5-10 tasks that are representative of key functions on your site or application.

You need to observe any issues participants are having:

  • finding where to go to begin the task
  • completing a task
  • understanding particular terminology
  • understanding the interface as a whole

You can interview them after each task to understand why they may have had problems, and then at the end to get their overall reaction and hear about their suggestions. Doing this process once or twice is a very inexpensive way of getting a user-centered design into your design process.

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