In a relationship, any kind of relationship, you have to be aware of the simple fact that not every fracture is acute. Small and seemingly insignificant cracks can and do built up over time and that while nobody is perfect and that everyone makes mistakes, it doesn’t mean that those mistakes aren’t any less your fault. If you want to have any chance of making said relationship lasts, it’s important for each party to alert the other of what they think is wrong to keep these cracks from turning into an irreversible breakdown of the relationship.
This is true in a romantic relationship, a platonic one, a familial one and also when it comes to the relationship in web development. The relationship between web developers and users is a bit one-sided in that the burden of keeping the other party happy merely lies on the part of web developers, which makes it all the more important for websites to provide a simple way of providing feedback. This isn’t something that’s often mentioned in web development even though customers’ feedback is a necessary ingredient if you want your website to grow in the right direction.
Everyone makes mistakes; the important thing is to not repeat them
I’m 99% sure that we’ve all been in a relationship at least once in our lives at this point and given how statistics work, there’s also a pretty good chance that some of those relationships didn’t exactly end well for either party. I’ve been in relationship where I bailed with minimum explanation and as karma dictates, I’ve been in positions where I was the one left behind. It took me quite a while to finally realize that this is counter-productive; how are you supposed to grow as a couple and as a person if neither is willing to point out where the other is falling short?
In cases like these, what typically happens is that we ended up badmouthing our exes behind their backs, sometimes for mistakes or errors in judgment they never realized they were making in the first place. The sad thing is, this behavior also extends to how we conduct our relationship with other businesses. Have you ever had an awful experience while you’re eating, shopping, getting a haircut or partaking in any kind of service but instead of making your case directly to the business in question, you simply shared your experience with your circle of friends?
This kind of behavior can be particularly damaging to small businesses because honest mistakes do happen all the time and in my previous experience, they’re more than willing to correct their mistakes as long as you engage them with good intentions in mind. In the typical retail setting, this can be done easily but when business interactions are done online via a website, with no face-to-face interactions whatsoever, things are a bit more complicated. This is far from impossible however and there are a several clever things we could do to facilitate customers’ feedback in the world of web development.
Using on-site visitor surveys
Visitor surveys are something widely used in the internet but they’re often treated as an afterthought by web developers, with a lack of attention given to these surveys and little thought given to how users might want to spend time filling them out. It’s not uncommon for users to think of these surveys as little more than an annoyance and that’s something we have to change. The first step is to make them a prominent feature on your website, which can be easily achieved by embedding them in a pop-up directed at users that have viewed several pages in a single session or after they’ve completed the checkout process if it’s an e-commerce platform.
The next step is to give users an incentive for filling out these surveys, either by directly giving them discount vouchers or by simply arranging a contest by promising freebies to users with the most constructive of criticism, which would also ensure the quality of the surveys. The final step is to ensure that the surveys aren’t a hassle to deal with while ensuring they still give you meaningful data. Try to keep it short but make sure to use open-ended questions instead of the simple binary yes/no to garner more quality responses.
Implement a live chat system
The problem with surveys, forms and e-mails is that they’re impractical if you’re seeking for immediate help even though these can be particularly useful as they can help alert you to something problematic within your website. A live chat system would help you solve this problem while also providing you with an additional feedback channel. If you want to be thorough, you can also ask your live chat representative to prod users further on their problems but solving the problems should still be the priority.
Be thorough with your analytics
Even without active feedback, there are actually a lot of things you could learn from users as long as you know what to look for. There are a lot of website tracking tools available online, free or otherwise, that you could use for this purpose. These tools however can only provide the raw numbers; it’s up to you to translate those numbers into meaningful insights that could be used to improve your website in a better direction. The data gathered here might actually be more valuable than the ones you could get from active feedback as they’re mostly related to the subconscious.
Making heads or tails from these data can be difficult and even though much of the data you’ve collected might seem like junk, they can prove invaluable in the right hands. The world at large has increasingly moved into the direction of machine learning and big data, showcasing just how much of a commodity they are right now in the field of artificial intelligence. By comparison, the data collected from your website wouldn’t be as comprehensive or insightful but they should prove to be just useful enough to be used as building blocks to be used in developing an improved version of your website.