The importance of user feedback

It’s very easy as a start-up to isolate yourself from the world around you as you focus on iterating and developing your product or service. However, if you don’t get validation from the people who will be using your product your company can struggle to get off the ground or worse build the wrong set of features.

Follow the strategies below to help you collect actionable user feedback and keep your company heading in the right direction.

Designing Your Test

Before you go out and perform user testing, define what is it that you are trying to gain from the user feedback. Below are some key guidelines to follow when designing your tests.

  1. Tight and Controlled: Keep your testing focused on a particular aspect of your site or service to quickly glean insights. For instance have a user test on the ease of the sign-up process.
  2. Brief: Keep the survey short. You want a user to be able to complete it within minutes. If it drags on a user can become less interested and muddy your results. Rule of thumb keep it close to 5 questions.
  3. Mix it up: When conducting a survey, for each question have a combination of quantitative (i.e. rate the importance of x feature from 1–5) as as well as qualitative feedback (i.e. Why is x feature important to you?). The why sometimes can be more important than the actual rank.
  4. Hypothesize: When possible have a hypothesis on the expected outcome. This will allow you to see where the user missed the intended goal and how to close that gap.

Types of User Testing

Below are a few test methods and how they can be beneficial. You want to have mix of each type so you can get results from different perspectives.

  • Surveys: A great way to get both qualitative and quantitative metrics. You can use Google Forms or sites like Wufoo.com to spin up quick forms.
  • In Person user tests: Have an in-person session with the user as he/she performs the requested steps. You want to balance allowing the user to explore on his own, but also on completion of a task have the user talk through the process. This can help you better assess what it is the user attempted to do and if that aligned with your hypothesis.
  • A/B Testing: This is effective when you want to test messaging and visuals. Develop a hypothesis on which test will win and see if your data validates it. Paid services like Optimizely allow for very quick setup of A/B tests with robust data metrics. You can also use free services likeGoogle Analytics

Use optimizely to test different call to actions

  • Pop-Up Survey: Initiate a pop-up if a user is exiting quickly and ask them why they are leaving or embed a widget on your site that a user can respond to quickly. Services like surveymonkey.com andquestionpro.com can help you design and implement these types of surveys.

Place a persistent pop-up in the far right hand corner

  • Design testing: For getting feedback about your site design and layout. Services like invision are very useful as users can put there comments right onto the design of the page. And for app feedback services likeflightestapp are great.

Users can provide there annotations right on your design and you can respond back

What are the important questions to ask at each stage of the business

 

Pre-Launch:

  • Business Validation: Are you solving a problem for a significant amount of users?
  • Product Understanding: Do users understand what your service offers and how you differentiate from competitors?
  • Feature Prioritization: What are the most important features for launch?
  • Monetization: Will a user be willing to pay for your service and roughly how much?

Post launch:

  • Engagement: Are the features you are building leading to repeat customers and return visitors?
  • Virality: Are customers referring their friends to join and are you making it easy for them to do so?
  • Usability: Do users know how to correctly utilize your service? Can they perform the expected actions? What are the potential friction points?

3–6 months:

  • A/B Testing: Test variants of messaging, copy, positioning and color schemes to increase sign-up rates and goal conversion. Check outoptimizelys blog for suggestions
  • Brand recognition: How aware is your target audience of your brand?

Year 1:

  • V2 Features: What’s the next set of feature or services that your corecustomer needs.
  • Less is More: Is there some feature or service you should be removing.
  • Competitor Evaluation: Who are your top 3 competitors and how do you take more of their market share.

Where to get user feedback

For alpha products friends/family is a great way to get validation but here are some other channels to consider as you get into the beta stage and beyond.

  1. Volume testing: Sites like usertesting.com can be a great way get statistically significant data on the eases of use of feature or what is most important to a user.


With sites like user testing you can assign and record specific tasks for the user to complete

  1. Go to your audience: Find where you audience eats or shops and politely ask them if they have a few min to answer some questions. Some locations to find potential users include coffee shops, malls, bus stops etc. A gift/reward for completing the survey can come in handy.
  2. Groups/Forums/Meetups: There are plenty of niche groups out there that can be a good way to share your product and get valuable feedback. Find the ones relevant to you and reach out to the moderator to see how you can work with them.


Meetups.com is a good source to find groups

How much data do you need to collect?

There is no definitive answer and can vary depending on the type of survey method. Great Brook suggests 200 responses is needed to validate your data, while Nielsen Norma Group suggests 5 is substantial. Generally once you see a consistent trend line in the data, that should be a good indication you have done enough testing. However if there is some variability and groups of outliers it might be worth honing the questions or asking a different question to achieve the same results.

Remember that testing is never done and you will want to continue this cycle each time you plan to launch a new feature or service or find that you are not seeing the growth you expected.

Recap


  • Define the goals and hypothesis for your user testing
  • Keep user testing sessions/surveys short and focused
  • Perform a mix of different types of survey methods to see the whole picture
  • Hustle and be creative on where you find your users
  • Monitor and observe the trends in your data to determine if more testing is needed

Share your user testing hacks and best practices in the comments section.

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