There are 3 ways you can get feedback from your users- via a survey, a feedback form or with livechat. There's a full (if slightly biased) definition of these on the Kampyle blog, but here are my one line (ahem) definitions:
Survey- ask your users a set of questions. Can be as varied as you like (depending on limitations of the tool that you use), and can be either closed either/or, multiple choice questions or open ended text replies.
Feedback form- this is more of an invitation to users to offer feedback. Your typical feedback form will be evident on each page of your site and, although you can prompt users to contribute, this approach is more about users talking about whatever they want to talk about.
Livechat- can either be an option to IM chat with staff (either for support or feedback), or an open forum in which ideas, feedback, bugs and complaints are shared amongst staff and users alike.
Before you begin looking into one of these options, I recommend you have a think about a few things to make sure you're going down the right route for your website. (I've used 'feedback' as a general term to cover all three broad definitions above).
Why are trying to get feedback from your users?
- why are you doing this? Do you want to increase conversion rates, improve user experience, capture more information about your users? - are you going to implement changes as a result of this feedback? If not, why are you doing it?
Who are the results going to?
There's no point collecting some feedback just to flatter the CEO. Make sure that the person receiving the results will understand the data and have some ideas about what to do with it.
What are your limitations?
There are loads of factors that may limit your feedback (although not all of them may necessarily be negative). Before you start to put your actual questions together, consider the following:
- how many questions are your users willing to answer? - how similar are your users? If they're from too wide a demographic, then you might need to target different groups with your form. - how long will it take to collect the data? You probably want a certain amount of feedback before you decide to action any findings, so think about how long it might take for your site to have enough users to meet that target. Be realistic.
Make sure you ask the right questions
A lot of this advice boils down to the simple fact that you need to make sure you're asking the right questions. There's a limit to the number of questions that your users will answer so make sure they're good ones. The beauty of an online feedback form is that it's not limited to a simple 1,2,3 questionnaire- there's loads of ways to squeeze much more information out of your users. There are a few tools that will help you no end when it comes to this part of the process. I've done a quick roundup of what seem to be the best four (or, at least, the most talked about) on the web.
Summary- Survey Monkey is probably the most popular straightforward survey tool freely available online. It's very easy to set up and there are loads of different kinds of questions it can ask, from open-ended text box to closed multiple choices. This tool falls into the 'Survey' category above.
Pros- Very flexible. If you know exactly what you want your survey to look like then this tool probably gives you the most space in which to do it.
Cons- There's a limit of 10 questions and 100 responses for the free package.
Summary- This is a nifty little tool that asks users for feedback when they're exiting the site. It comes highly recommended by the don of Analytics, Avinash Kaushik, and, as far as I can tell, differs mainly from Survey Monkey by the fact that it guides you towards the questions you should be asking your users. Again, it falls into the 'survey' category.
Pros- Recommended by Avinash :) . Apart from that, it's very easy to set up (took me a trial 2 minutes) and looks like it has some really nice data processing stuff going on. If you want to find out more about it, watch this little video and then, as Avinash encourages, go and do a little dance.
Cons- Some of the lists that you have to choose from in the setup are quite long and veer between highly specific descriptions to really broad ones. But, to be honest, I'm just being picky: as long as you agree with the '4 most important user questions' then this is a great tool.
Summary- Kampyle's hot. Once you know what it looks like, you'll see it ALL over the place. You basically stick an icon on every page on your site and that allows users to give feedback on a range of subjects whenever they want to. The tool can be used to steer users towards giving useful feedback. As an added bonus, the tool can be integrated with your Analytics as well. If you haven't already guessed, Kampyle falls into the 'feedback form' category.
Pros- Again, very easy to set up and it's really a case of plug-in and play. We used it for a while on our site and found the feedback that we did get very useful.
Cons- When we used it, we didn't get that many responses- perhaps because the form is quite so unobtrusive?
Summary- Uservoice allows you to build a community around your brand. Feedback is organised around a forum, with voting systems and a chance for you to communicate directly with your customers. I haven't actually played with this yet so I won't do the pros and cons, but the site is very pretty and has lots of testimonials from some big brands. The tool falls into the final category of 'livechat'.
I hope you've found this post useful. I'm learning lots about this at the moment and would really appreciate any feedback!
(Photo via Planned Parenthood)