Now, before we go in specifics about the platforms you can use to gather feedback – a few more words of warning. Most online places, where you can publish your page for review, have long ago figured that people like you are a potential revenue stream. Furthermore, they are protecting their audiences /rightfully so/ from aggressive marketers who look for cheap ways to attract traffic. So if your intentions are pure do not be scared to get in touch with administrators and webmasters. Send them what you intend to write and why. The rest is at the mercy of their business interests.
Down the user testing hole…
Assuming you have done your pre-flight checks with defining your target group, writing down your specific concerns, choosing the methodology for analyzing the data and arming yourself with plenty of good will and patience, it is time to talk feedback channels. I am far for claiming that during our research we have exhausted all available tools. Below is just a list of those that worked for TheSocks. Those that proved particularly helpful and still do.
We kick off with those which main value proposition revolves around providing website feedback.
- ConceptFeedback.com – great service, great community! You describe the nature of your business, provide the URL to your page, ask your questions and after 5 reviews of your own you are ready to go. Not only that your page will be rated on 1 to 5 scale in 3 dimensions, but you also have an inbuilt way to communicate to people who were very helpful to you. In our experience the only downside is that the feedback you get might be too design oriented. Also, for the free version you might have to wait a week before feedback starts to accumulate.
- Criticue.com – quick, focused and intuitive to use. “Give and you shall receive” at its best. For every review you make you receive one. Plus all reviews are moderated /including yours/ so you would not have to waste time on profanities yourself. Not to mention the quick message system allowing you to ask an extra question or two when you feel the need to. Or just to say “Thank you!”
- FeedbackRoulette.com – although the free version is a bit limited in terms of functionality you still can gather extensive and well structured reviews on your page. And just like ConceptFeedback, testers rate your design, usability and content on 1 to 5 scale.
- FiveSecondTest.com – simple concept, easy to use. The idea is you upload a page and your critiques have only 5 seconds to observe it. Next they have to describe which parts of the page stuck with them and if they’ve manage to grasp the idea you are trying to communicate. Needless to say, the results you get might be quite surprising and curious. The downside is, unless the internet is full of people with photographic memory, I would not rely much on any business advice from this service.
…Further down we go
If you are willing to put an extra effort to your feedback gathering campaign here are a few not-so-straightforward ideas:
- Forums – If your questions are very specific and do not require you to refer to your site to receive opinions, then you could practically use any forum related to your line of work. If ou equire visual means /include a URL or an attachment/ in your post then your options are significantly reduced. The ones that we used were: Sitepoint, Freeindex, WebProWorld, v7n, Dtg-forums. Make a several reviews yourself and you should be good to go. My advice would be to always ask the admin for a green light before submitting your thread though. Especially if you are new to the forum. Sometimes it is just better to ask permission than to ask for forgiveness.
- LinkedIn – If you still do not have a profile there, may be it is time to give it a try. An easy way to communicate with experienced professionals. Large amount of groups dedicated to sharing knowledge and solving problems. Mature discussions on specific issues. Hmm. Right, how could I make use of that…
- StartUp communities – In my experience, most of the StartUp community memebers possess minds as open as they come. May be it is because their success is closely related to making friends. Or may be due to regular sleep deprivation, they are now forever wired to empathize with the world. Who knows? What I do know is that, during our feedback campaign we have received a great deal of assistance through these communities. A handful of them would be: startupnation.com, youngentrepreneur.com and answers.onstartups.com
Should you choose to benefit from one of the above opportunities do not forget to target your channels according to your business specifics. “I will post in Cosmopolitan’s forums for a feminine point of view and in Askmen.com for a macho one” might just not be specific enough. You might need to consider age, location, experience, business areas and so on.
Through the looking glass
And if you are an introvert by nature – feeling more comfortable watching strangers from a far and talking to them through a bulletproof glass – worry not. The following two might be just the solutions for you. Both are services we have integrated to our page and were very pleased in doing so.
- Uservoice – This tool is seamlessly integrated into every page of your website allowing for capturing a user’s opinion or problem the moment it occurs. As oppose to leaving the page they are on to fill a contact form or write an e-mail. Now, I personally like to put twice the attention to any feedback gathered from this source than from any of the aforementioned. The main reason being that you invited the first group on your site to find fault with it. Critics from Uservoice are your “genuine” users. They found themselves on your website with the specific intention to make use of your service and were left disappointed.
- ClickTale – strictly speaking this tool does not provide you with critical feedback in the sense that users do not express their issues explicitly. What it does instead is record each user visit on a target page and store a video of he mouse movement and clicks. What’s more, it aggregates the mouse clicks and hovers of each visit to provide a heat map of the most used page elements. Drawing conclusions based on this tool in conjunction with all the other methods at your disposal /including Google analytics/ produces marvelous results. Let’s say two people point out to you that your “Add to cart” button is hard to spot. But when you watch the video recordings, you see that there is a clear convergence of attention to where the button is. Plus the majority of the users find it within several seconds of their first visit. That should make you think twice before adding a fireworks hover effect to that button.
Understandably, both these tools have plenty of alternatives out there. Again – I chose to mention them in this article due to their distinguished service to us so far.
In conclusion, I am left with a couple of more general tips. Do not take any criticism as personal! Remember, you have asked for it when you went down the user testing road. What does not kill your website makes it stronger and all that… Secondly – try to give back. Whichever method(s) you choose for gathering your feedback, leave something in return, that others could benefit from. After all if those strangers were not there in the first place who would have helped you?
In part 3 we will share in details how TheSocks team went about to analyze the gathered feedback.