How Suveys Can Enhance Web User Experience

Remember the government shut down, just a few months ago? Through all the antics in Washington, it was very apparent that most Americans did not want the government shutdown. Despite this fact, the government stayed shutdown for two weeks and all we could do is yell and scream at people that weren’t listening. 

This got me thinking about how we often times don’t listen to our own website audience and what their wants and needs actually are. We design cool sites and develop neat widgets, all in the comfort of our own cubicles figuring that as long as we like it so will our visitors.

The problem is we don’t always know our visitors as well as we think we do. Yes, we obsess over analytics data and strut our stuff when we identify issues with user behavior, but what if that user behavior is indicative of a glaring issue on your site that is invisible to the data? Case in point, what if an eCommerce website didn’t show product reviews? 

The site would still get transactions, analytics reports would show some funnel abandonment, but at the end of the day nothing would really look wrong. However, perhaps adding reviews could increase conversions by 15%!

So how do we know what our website visitors want? ASK THEM! 

User surveys can be done en mass by sending out a link to a survey using tools such as Survey Monkey or can be done in a more focus group style where you’re asking your audience very specific questions in-person or over the phone. The key is to make sure you have a good subset of your total audience (ie: If you cater to students and teachers make sure both groups are well represented). 

The goal of this exercise is to listen. What do they want? What would make their web experience easier? Keep your line of questioning specific and short (especially if you send out a survey). Asking these questions directly gives you clear insight as to where you should focus your website optimization efforts. Then you can introduce new content, design or functionality by A/B Testing your changes to ensure they are the right changes.

This simple exercise can be done in an afternoon or over a few days, but the small amount of time it takes to gather this data can pay huge dividends in the form of higher conversions… and happier visitors!

What is type of questions or surveys do you pose to your customers? Let us know on Twitter!

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