Reader Question: How Do I Get Feedback on My New Website?

We're getting ready to launch a new website, and I want to know how it's doing. What's the best way to get honest feedback? Thanks, Roslyn Kruchten

The fact you're asking that question already puts you on the road to a better website. A new online project doesn't end when it launches. That's just the ending of the development. Hopefully, you've done your homework into what your audience wants and needs before the launch, because then you can focus on how well you've delivered after that. Here are a few good ways to get feedback on a new website, although it's a good idea to check how well an established website is doing too.

Issue a survey - the same one you offered before beginning.

It's always a good idea to put out a survey before you begin any web project to see how you might improve. Its results will tell you what you should build into the site, but it will also set benchmarks. Keep those results, and then after your new website has launched, you can issue the same survey and compare results. Here's a free user survey you can print out or e-mail to your audience.

Ask the people you know.

Simply send a message to the people in your contacts lists, though e-mail, on Twitter, Facebook or your other social media accounts. Ask people who have nothing to do with your industry, because they'll give you insight and help point out jargon. You can ask them to simply respond to your message, or you can create a submission form for them to add anonymous comments.

Ask the people you don't know.

Set up a quick test with a user testing tool like FiveSecondTest. This service lets you create two designs of a website and test it on a random sampling of people. People who see it vote with their gut for the version they like better. Anonymous testing can reveal preferences and problems that you can't discover from asking your friends.

Set up a usability test.

If you've got the time and budget, the best thing to do is set up a usability test. Ideally, you'd have a focus group with subjects and interviewers, seriously studying how they do on your site. The W3C has some excellent test scripts and interview questions you can use to model your own session. [Have a question you’d like answered? Ask on the comments form at the bottom of this page, on Twitter @talance, or on Facebook. We’ll review your question before posting (don’t be shy about asking!) and get back to you with a response.]

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