This is part two in a three-part series exploring WHY user feedback helps you make better products, HOW to best collect and digest that feedback, and WHAT greatness will come for your product, your team, and your organization when you solicit feedback from your users.

The best way to make great products is to get a prototype in front of your users, solicit feedback, listen, then iterate. The ‘solicit feedback and listen’ part tends to get tricky, especially at a growing organization, so let’s break this down and see some ways you can fine-tune the process.

Ways to listen

Ok, now that you understand why you need to ask for feedback, how do you get started? Here are the ways to find what you’re looking for and really hear what people are saying.

Prompt in context

The best feedback is collected right at the moment a user has an impulse to provide it. To be sure users know you are willing to listen, put a subtle button on pages that are visited often. Bring up a pop-up after submitting a form or performing a trigger action. It’s easy to do this in web apps, and if you start looking for them, you’ll see subtle feedback prompts all over the web.

Jira provides two easy ways to put these in your application:

  1. Jira Issue Collectors let you customize the issue creation form and give you a line of HTML that you can put on any web page you like.
  2. Jira Mobile Connect is a free, open-source library for collecting feedback and engaging with your mobile users to improve the quality of your iOS application.

Both of these are available for both Jira download and Jira OnDemand.

Make it dead simple in 3 steps

If there are barriers involved in submitting feedback, users are more likely to abandon the action. Avoid this with three tips to simplify feedback forms:

  1. Avoid login prompts. If the user is logged into your application, collect their details automatically – and if not, leave optional Name and Email fields at the bottom of the form so a user can opt in to two-way communication. Making those fields optional will again make users less likely to abandon your feedback form.
  2. Keep the number of fields low. There should never be multiple pages or tabs, and you should avoid a scroll bar in your form. Let the user see exactly what is expected of them before they start the form, so they know they can get back to work quickly.
  3. j5.1_feedback_featTourUse emoticons and other expressive images in your feedback form. Emoticons can lowers the language barrier for international users, and reduce the time needed to read through bulky text to express what users want to say.

Gamify!

Adding game mechanics to your feedback process keeps users engaged and developers motivated to address and process feedback.

whinger_large copyWith the great results social networking has seen from gamification (Foursquare anyone?), it should make sense to gamify your feedback process to increase user engagement. One Atlassian development team tried this with an internal competition for Biggest Whinger – the person who submitted the most pieces of helpful feedback on an internal beta release got a gift certificate.

Note: more isn’t always better. Quality feedback was judged by the team and required a suggestion, like “This icon doesn’t tell me what to expect from clicking, it should have a descriptive tool-tip or be replaced with text”.

We’ve experimented with custom hoodies, movie tickets, announcements at staff meetings, and even just bragging rights as prizes for contents like this one, with all prizes proving to be equal motivation. Your users want to be the winner of any contest you come up with – so use this to your advantage and gamify user feedback!

It’s a Beautiful World

Next week we’ll conclude our series showing you all the greatness that will come to your organization when you really listen to user feedback.

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