Collecting feedback on your website and UI is one of the most effective ways to gauge how your website is tracking with users. It gives you a direct insight into how they use your website, how they feel while using it, and whether or not they’re encountering an aspect of your site that should be improved.
However, sometimes you want to collect feedback before your site goes live. For that, you’ll want to invest in website design feedback.
What is website design feedback?
Website design feedback is feedback from users on the design and usability of your website rather than your customer experience. You’re looking for feedback on navigation, buttons, and UI elements rather than marketing materials, product descriptions, reward systems, etc. In short, you want feedback from users, not necessarily customers.
Although you can collect design feedback after your website is live, it’s better to get it during the development stage for a few reasons.
For one thing, it’ll allow you to spot major design flaws and bugs before your site is in the hands of the general public. This gives you time to polish things up without causing damage to your brand’s reputation.
Another reason for collecting website design feedback before your website is live is that you have a high degree of control over what the feedback you’re collecting looks like. You control who is reviewing your website, which aspects and version of your site they see, and so on.
6 ways to effectively gather website design feedback
1. Finding the right audience
The first way you can ensure that the website design feedback you collect is in line with your goals happens before you start collecting that feedback. In this first step, your mission is to find the right audience for your feedback collection.
This is a two-pronged challenge. The initial part of this challenge is deciding who your target audience is. Then, you need to determine how you’re going to find those users and bring them in to test your website.
Working with your marketing and research teams can be a great way to hone in on your target audience. Of course, you can also just envision who your site is meant for. Think about who will be using your site daily, consider their tech-savviness, age, accessibility needs, and other demographic concerns.
Next, try to come up with a few points that make people of this target audience ideal for testing your website. For instance, if you know your target audience is younger tech-savvy professionals, then one reason why you need someone like this to test your website is to ensure that it has all of the cutting-edge features this demographic is used to. So, target this demographic as you seek testers and vet them by ensuring that each tester will be looking for modern, sleek solutions and interfaces.
2. Be specific about the feedback you want
Once you have the users who will be providing website design feedback, you’ll want to take steps to craft the questions and methods you’ll be using for collecting their feedback.
There are, generally speaking, two approaches you can take:
- Being as broad and open as possible to the feedback your testers have to offer.
- Being narrow and precise so that the feedback your testers offer closely matches your goals.
The first is simpler to collect and more challenging to work through. It’s less recommended unless you have specific reasons for collecting unstructured feedback.
More often than not, you’ll be looking for specific, structured feedback. Your development, marketing, and/or research teams have a solid idea of their goals for your website. Maybe you’re just cleaning up bugs and making sure everything works as intended. Or maybe you’re on the opposite end, and much of your project has been a stab in the dark. You need confirmation, criticism, and tweaks to your overall vision.
Wherever you fall on that spectrum, it’s important to clearly define the goals you have with your feedback. Then, you can write questions that extract that feedback from your users. It can also be useful to limit the scope of your feedback in one cycle so that you can target your goals with even more direction. Then, later, you can host another cycle to hone in on other issues.
However you choose to go about honing in on these points, the strategy is simple: Be specific about the feedback you want so that you actually get that feedback.
3. Remove bias from your website design feedback
The other side of the “Be Specific” coin is bias. Sometimes, those collecting website design feedback can inadvertently introduce bias into your questions. For example, asking your users if they see themselves as being tech-savvy can lead to bias (each user has their definition of what “tech-savvy” is), while asking how often they visit websites/apps like yours can reduce bias (you determine the criteria for what is tech-savvy, not the user).
Removing bias from research and surveys is a large part of the research sector, so it’s impossible to be comprehensive in this post. We recommend speaking with your research team and looking at the specific strategies they’ll be using to reduce various types of bias.
A few guidelines you can follow, though, are:
- Ensuring that you aren’t sampling a biased group (i.e., internal employees or loyal customers)
- Keeping your survey anonymous, avoiding questions that have a socially desirable answer (“Are you a nice person? 99% answered yes”)
- Using a sliding scale for answers rather than Yes/No or a blank field, etc.
4. Take advantage of existing website design feedback tools
One of the best ways to effectively gather website design feedback without needing to know anything about the field of research is to start using feedback tools. These already exist in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so there’s no need to create your own.
We’ll be covering these tools in more detail below. The idea, though, is that these are plugins you can add to your website. They show up in the form of UI elements (like pop-ups or chat bubbles) and usually have features that match them to the design of your website.
This allows you to quickly create an automatic system for collecting feedback. All you need to do is specify your feedback questions, testers/users, and set the conditions for how feedback will be collected.
Some of these website feedback tools go a step further and provide a back-end tool for managing your feedback. It stores organises, and makes it easy to reply to and assign feedback. Again, read through the second half of this guide to see the best options available to you.
5. Choosing between surveys, multiple-choice forms, and website feedback buttons
Whether you’re using a home-grown or third-party tool for collecting website design feedback, you’ll quickly find that there are several ways you can choose to structure your feedback.
You’ll decide the medium through which your feedback is collected (popup, video, survey, essay) and how your feedback questions can be answered (observation, multiple-choice, sliding scale, open-ended). You can technically collect feedback by sitting next to your users and asking them questions as they go, but this can create bias in the form of the Hawthorne effect.
For most design feedback needs, surveys and website feedback buttons are going to be your best bet. Videos are a solid option as well, though the responses will be less structured and more time-consuming to process.
For collecting feedback, it’s generally accepted that sliding scale answers (agree, somewhat agree, neutral, somewhat disagree, disagree) are ideal. This adds nuance to your users’ answers while still maintaining structure. Yes/No answers are solid when you need a more precise answer and open-ended or multiple-choice answers are ideal for remaining circumstances.
6. Closing the loop
Lastly, you’ll want to close the loop. Closing the loop refers to the process that takes place after you’ve collected your feedback. That could mean sending your testers home and never contacting them again, or it could mean conducting follow-up interviews with them.
Generally, especially in the case of collecting feedback from real-world users rather than testers, closing the loop means letting the giver of feedback know that their feedback has been logged and will be considered by your team. Then, if you end up implementing a solution to their feedback, reaching out to them and letting them know would be the final step in closing the loop.
For gathering website design feedback from testers, closing the loop will most often mean thanking and compensating them for their time. It can also be helpful to bring them back after you’ve implemented tweaks to your website so you can see if your updated site better meets their expectations.
The other side of closing the loop is collecting and acting on the feedback your testers provide you with. How you organise feedback, choose what to act on and what to ignore, how you determine invalid answers from the rest, etc., will play a key role in how effective your design feedback ends up being.
4 of the best tools for gathering website design feedback
Now we are going to cover some of the best website design feedback tools currently available. These are just a few of the options available to you, but they should cover most of the main features/needs site owners have. To best decide between these services, it can be useful to outline your goals for gathering design feedback first and then look through the options below.
First on our list is Bounce. Bounce is one of the simplest tools for collecting website design feedback. All you need is a URL to or screenshot of the site you want feedback for. Paste it into Bounce and it’ll allow you (or your testers) to start leaving feedback and comments right away. There’s nothing to download, install, or fuss with.
The drawback of Bounce is the same as its strength: It can be a little too simple for most users. Feedback isn’t very structured and you won’t find many integrations with other apps and services. If your needs are minimal and your sample group small, then Bounce can get you all of the information you need in an afternoon of use.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Usability Hub. Usability Hub is a far more robust service. It integrates with your website and provides complex features like heatmaps, five-second tests, preference tests, audience/user targeting, surveys, polls, and much more.
If you’re looking to collect feedback of a much broader variety and on a large-scale, then Usability Hub can be a great option. The pricing can be high for smaller teams, though, which is something to bear in mind.
For businesses that want to test a website design before they’ve finished creating that website, there’s Proto.io. Although it’s not strictly for collecting website design feedback, it can be used to create a mockup of a website or mobile app.
This allows you to quickly turn your sketch/draft of your website into a working prototype. And you don’t need to know much (or any) code to get things up and running.
You’ll still need to pair Proto.io with a design feedback collection tool. You also shouldn’t use Proto.io as the be-all and end-all of your website design feedback, since it won’t account for bugs and issues in the final version of your website. It’s only to be used for preliminary feedback before you start building your site, making it helpful to see if you’re on the right track early on.
Last on our list of website design feedback tools is Saber Feedback. Saber Feedback is one of the most powerful, trusted, and comprehensive feedback collection tools. It’s used by the UK and Australian governments, major universities, major sports leagues, and others. It comes in the form of a website feedback button that can be used to instantly capture bugs, suggestions, and more from your testers.
Feedback buttons are one of the best ways to collect feedback as they don’t interrupt the user experience, can use metadata to provide additional context, and are just as useful for internal testing as it is for gathering external feedback.
You can reach out to the Saber Feedback team today to see if it’s the right option for your needs.