Using feedback to better your website

7 January 2019

This is an old post, so may include broken links and/or out-of-date information

Most organisations receive feedback about their website on a regular basis, whether it’s via email, or comments when customers are booking tickets. Lots of this feedback will be positive, and some will be less so. Celebrating the positive is really important – as is taking note of constructive criticism, which can be used to inform ongoing development of the website.

Whether it’s board members, your team, volunteers, donors, new and regular bookers….they will all have an opinion on your organisation’s website. The temptation can be to either bat away feedback that doesn’t match your opinion and only make changes based on what you agree with, or to make reactive changes based on any and every negative comment.

But, knowing how to manage feedback and use it to make informed decisions will improve your website in the long run; and help you when you need to push back on some suggestions.

You can't forget what you already know

Sounds obvious, but it’s impossible to un-know what you know. This means anything on the website is only new to you the very first time you see it.

You’ll sometimes get feedback which seems silly to you (how often have you thought “But it’s right there, how didn’t they see it?!”). So if someone says they’re struggling to find the ‘Book Now’ button, or the mailing list sign up, or the bar info... regardless of how obvious you think it is, it might not be clear for other people.

Don’t be afraid to invite feedback

Feedback from your colleagues and customers is really valuable. Even with the best planning and thinking in the world, it’s only once a site is live that your decisions are really tested.

Don’t be afraid to invite feedback. But make sure you’re asking the right questions. There are lots of ways to gather feedback, from NPS scoring to surveys and pop-ups on your website. But whenever you ask for feedback, keep three things in mind:

  • Never ask leading questions and don’t ask too many open ended questions e.g. “Do you agree our What’s On page is great?” This implies it is great. Instead ask “What do you think of the What’s On page?” (for more tips on survey questions, check out SurveyMonkey’s handy guide)
  • Be specific, and if possible collect quantitative data - e.g. “On a scale of 1-5, how easy was it to find what you were looking for?”
  • Ask at the right time. This might mean using an automated email to ask for feedback right after customers book or sign up to a mailing list.

Listen, record and review

The first thing to remember when receiving feedback is that it’s all valid. Feedback is just someone's opinion, and that means, for them, it’s correct.

New people visit your website every day, and some of them will provide feedback, usually via the Box Office or email. Take this feedback seriously, even when it seems silly.

Work with relevant teams across your organisation to capture feedback and record this in a single place (Google Sheets are great for this!). You might want to build-in some categories, such as type of customer (e.g. first time booker, member, staff member) and type of feedback (e.g. What’s On, booking tickets, signing up to a mailing list). Remember to also record the date, plus any relevant URL and notes.

You shouldn’t act on every piece of feedback you get, but keeping track of the feedback means you can start to see patterns and trends over time, and use this information to inform changes to the website.

Don't be afraid to push back

If you’re asking the right questions and recording feedback that comes in, over time you’ll be able to use this to make really well informed decisions about your website.

If you spot the same comment time after time you can make a change to the website to address the issue, then monitor ongoing feedback to see if the change has had a positive imapact.

But, if you get a piece of feedback once, that never comes up again, you can be confident that this isn’t a priority, and might not be an issue for the majority of your customers. If you're unsure, ask colleagues for their opinion, and consider a question in your next survey to determine if it’s an issue – remembering not to make it a leading question!

Managing these situations can be difficult, especially when the feedback comes from a Board member or your manager. But be confident, show them the evidence and explain why you’re choosing not to make a change based on their feedback. (If you need a hand, ask your web agency to help.)

Don’t forget about all the other data

Feedback is a great source of information, insight and, if recorded correctly, data. But don’t forget, it’s one piece of a bigger picture. Feedback is most valuable when it’s used in conjunction with other data sources, such as you CRM system, Google Analytics and Hotjar.

In summary

Once you’re asking the right questions, and have a methodical way to store and review feedback, you’re good to go. Over time the feedback you get will become part of your digital strategy and help you develop an even better website for all your users.

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