We need feedback

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Yes, we do.

But what do you mean?

We need to understand why those users don't engage further with our content. We need to get in front of them and ask why they think the way they do. Why aren't they engaging with our content?

A feedback loop
A feedback loop

If those users are 6,000 miles away, that's going to be pretty expensive feedback. Sure, it will be valuable, qualitative feedback. 

But it won't be the most valuable feedback we can get.

Because what people say and what they actually do are two completely different things.

We can talk to people all day long and they'll tell us "I'd never do that in these circumstances" or "Yes, I'd definitely follow up on that."

But there is only one way to know for sure what people actually do, and that is to actually get stuff in front of them, in their real lives, and see what they do.

Let's say you want to test the text on a submit button on a form. You might want to try four variations:

  • Submit
  • Let's go!
  • Sign me up
  • Go

You could find a test group and show them these options on pieces of paper. That would be useful.

You could put together a focus group and have them discuss their perceptions of the options. That would be insightful.

You could put together a survey and ask users' opinions. That would be valuable.

But the best – the absolutely best, by a mile and a half – thing you could do is just try these options on your live website with actual customers who are actually trying to get their stuff done, whatever their context. 

On their phone, on the bus, on the way to work. At work, on their PC. In the evening, on the sofa, with their iPad.

Their actions will tell you more than a million conversations. And if you need to understand their context and motivation better … guess what: you can phone them now. They're customers, not visitors.

Stop asking, and start testing.

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I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been a content designer, editor, UX designer and giant haystacks developer on the web for (gulp) over 25 years.

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