Getting feedback

So I saw a request for advice about getting feedback on your publication from the amazing @caitvsmith, who works for Centerline Digital in Raleigh. Cait is a graduate of our master’s in interactive media program here at Elon.

My first thought was that as a reader, I want to know whom to contact and how to do it. Personally, I have a negative reaction to fill-in contact forms, mostly because they really make me feel as if the recipient only wants to hear certain kinds of feedback. I said I’d try to look up research on that, and best I can tell, there hasn’t been any on user feedback mode preferences.

There are some general points about getting survey information from people that I thought was relevant.

Remember that any kind of response gives at best a fuzzy picture. There’s a whole science of measuring people’s thoughts, but people are less compliant than molecules in a test tube, so just using them introduces some doubt into what is found.

It’s a good idea to think about how accurate you need the feedback to be. That means you need to think about why you want it.

Is it to see how effective your site is in keeping users happy? You’d want to give chances to give free-form information, as well as asking targeted questions. Think multiple-choice polls and a free response area (kind of like a BBS).

This Is it to make users happier by making them feel listened to? Then you need an opportunity to give feedback, a plan to respond to it, and a way to let other users know about your responses. Something like the hotel manager feedback on reviews on Trip Advisor can work. My family stayed at this hotel in part because the management seemed concerned if they take the time to post replies like you can find behind the link.

A column like “Letters to the Editor” with responses can do this as well. Check how American Airlines’ Magazine does this in the print edition.

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