Recently, we added a tool called Flash Feedback to ConceptFeedback.com (widget in the lower right corner) - something we should have done a long time ago. Similar to other on-site feedback tools (like Kampyle, 4Q Survey and UserVoice), Flash Feedback provides a way for users to quickly offer website feedback, including bug reports, feature suggestions and usability issues. For the site owner, feedback is sent instantly via e-mail, as well as collected and organized for deeper analysis.
Since we started using Flash Feedback a few weeks ago, we've been amazed at the number of valuable responses we've received. Not only has user feedback helped us identify issues with our site, it has helped us direct site strategy and development, by clarifying which components of the site are working well, and which need work. Before adding the Flash Feedback widget, we were trusting users to rely on our contact form for feedback, and while it did an okay job, we've found that making the form accessible and consistent across the site has greatly increased the amount of feedback and suggestions we receive.
While user feedback is extremely useful, and you need to have a system in place to obtain it, it can have its limitations:
- User feedback can distract from the established goals and vision for the site. Every user is different, and the suggestions you receive may be conflicting from one person to the next. Make sure you have a plan in place so you don't end up changing your site each time a suggesting pops up in your inbox.
- Users don't always know what they want, or what is best for them. When Apple created the iPod, it wasn't because a customer requested it. Likewise, while it may seem counterintuitive, listening to your users is not always the right thing to do. Developing a successful website requires your confident vision, combined with user guidance (keyword: guidance).
In addition to user feedback, utilizing expert website feedback can help you identify specific paths to greatly improve website conversion rates and performance. Experts can take user feedback to the next level, offering detailed guidance based on time-tested principles and real world experience. But whatever you do, make sure you're getting website feedback from someone - it's amazing how much better you can make your product by simply getting an outside perspective!
If you have user feedback stories, ideas or tools of your own, please post them in the comments below!