Creating a Feedback Loop for Users
Over the last few months, I've worked on several projects that started with good, solid user research efforts. We've sent out surveys, performed interviews, run usability tests, and worked with customer support teams. It's exciting to start a design project with good input from users, but the research we've been doing made me realize how often we have to work without the benefit of good user insights. This got me looking around at tools that companies can use to get started on gaining insight into their user's needs. I found two that looked particularly useful, and easy to use: Get Satisfaction and UserVoice.
Get Satisfaction is a hosted service that provides companies with a forum for customers to post complaints, suggest and rate new ideas, help each other, and communicate with employees. It's simple enough to get up and running, in fact you may find that your customers have already done the job for you. Get Satisfaction is primarily a customer service tool, but if customer service is the new marketing, it's also a fundamental piece of a good user experience.
Get Satisfaction provides a number of tools companies can use to identify key user needs and pain points:
- Users post and rate problems with your products
- Users suggest new features and vote for their favorites
- Users share their tips and tricks with each other
Get Satisfaction isn't alone, if these features sound useful, you can also check out:
UserVoice doesn't provide as many tools as Get Satisfaction, but it does a better job of letting users provide insight into the improvements they want most:
- Usrs can suggest new features and improvements
- Users can vote for their favorite new ideas
- The company can indicate which ideas they like, and which they don't
If you like UserVoice, but are looking for simpler, or free solution, check out FeatureList. If you know your way around a text editor, and would like to host your own solution, an open-source Digg clone like Pligg cound easily be turned into a UserVoice-like tool.
Making Good Use of Input
- Build what people need, not what they want
- Pay attention to what the user does, not what he says
In the end, I believe that utilizing tools like Get Satisfaction and UserVoice are great first steps in directly engaging users in design and product development. For companies, they can serve as a low-cost first step towards more in-depth research methods and tools. For users, they provide transparency and empowerment. My hope is that these tools can help build a sense of community ownership and participation in the design process.
- Bruce Temkin has made user communication a key part of his new management imperatives
- My colleague Ryan Moede reports that consumers are looking for better social interaction with brands