4 People You Should Ask For Website Feedback

Most people know that good feedback is essential to designing and developing quality websites.

But what constitutes “feedback” can be ambiguous: for some, it is little more than a hasty spell-check; for others, it is akin to submitting and defending a PhD dissertation.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for those seeking feedback on their work, there are some proven ways to get helpful input from others.

Here are a few ideas and tools to assist you in your quest for an improved product.

Have more ideas? Please share them in the comments area.

 

1. Ask Your Mom

I’m serious. Better yet, ask your grandma. Heck, even your plumber would be great! The reason I say this is because you must have people review your website who aren’t part of the web design and development community. Too often, web designers design for their industry colleagues and not for the audiences that their clients are trying to reach.

If you really want quality feedback, go a step further. For every project, try to get feedback from actual members of the audience you are trying to reach. If you are building a website for engineers, talk to engineers. If you are designing for a school, talk to teachers and students.

Admittedly, getting actionable feedback from outside the web design community can be hard (see “How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell“), but at the very least, these groups might alert you to mistakes you’ve made from misunderstanding the target audience.

A lot is to be said for thinking on your own about an audience’s online habits and aesthetic preferences. But as fruitful as that can be, do it only after you’ve stepped out of your ivory tower and mingled with the Internet’s common folk.

 

2. Ask a Big Name

Here’s a question: if you could get feedback from anyone in the world, who would it be?

Every person would choose someone different, but I’ll bet almost everyone could whip up a shortlist of people who they would love to bounce a few questions off of. Here’s the more important question: what’s stopping you from asking them? Sure, they may be busy and important, but that doesn’t mean trying to reach them isn’t worth a shot.

I don’t meant to brag, but I’ve been able to get just about everyone I’ve approached to reply to an email or talk by phone for five minutes to discuss a few questions. Sure, it took some digging and out-of-the-box thinking on my part (as well as being extra nice to their personal assistants or secretaries!), but it was well worth it. You would be surprised how accessible such people can be if you show genuine (but not creepy) interest and respect for their time.

Tim Ferris has an excellent section in his book The Four-Hour Work Week and in a post on his blog about reaching out to big names to discuss ideas and ask questions. In the section of his book entitled “Find Yoda,” Ferris gives a few tips for getting big name mentors on the phone (the one he mentions from his own experience is author John Grisham).

Not everyone can do this, but that’s the point: only the most innovative, persistent and courageous will follow through on getting feedback from their heroes, and that is ultimately what sets them apart from the crowd.

 

3. Ask Yourself

Here’s a seemingly obvious one. You are surely already editing your own work and making adjustments as needed. But are you really stepping back and asking yourself deep critical questions about your work (questions that would likely lead to revisions), or are you coasting on what you think looks good at the moment?

Every designer and developer would do well, upon completing a project, to wait before submitting it to the client. Get as far away from it as you can for a day or two, and then come back to it with fresh eyes.

Waiting until that heat of the moment has passed will uncover problems that you missed earlier or perhaps give you new confidence in elements you weren’t sure about before. Either way, taking a step back and asking yourself critical questions will give you a more thoughtful, deliberate piece of work.

 

4. Ask Your Community

Whether you work alone or with a team of designers and developers, you need feedback from people who are like you and who do the same kind of work you do.

The feedback you get from fellow members of the community is the most actionable because they know the vocabulary and can give you hard, practical advice (instead of the dreaded verdict one gets from clients, “It needs a bit more pizzazz!”). Your community also understands the various factors that affect your work, like budgets, deadlines and stressful clients.

If you are a freelancer or work alone, getting feedback from the wider community can be frustrating, because you don’t have a dedicated team of colleagues who can review what you’re doing. You’re not alone in this (think of the thousands of other freelancers out there), but there are a few ways to work the situation to your advantage.

One way is to trade feedback. Find a web designer or developer whom you respect, and offer to review their next project in exchange for their feedback on yours (you might not even know them personally—but don’t let that stop you!). Figuring out a system for giving and receiving feedback might take a while, but such a relationship has the potential to become beneficial and second-nature for both of you.

 

Tools for Collecting Feedback

Most websites, with their forums and comment sections, aren’t ideal places to collect and aggregate feedback. Here instead are a few innovative tools that provide great ways to share and receive feedback on projects and designs.

Concept Feedback - Website Review Community

Concept Feedback is a growing community of design, development and marketing professionals and a welcome change to disorganized forum walls. Concept Feedback allows others to provide quick, actionable feedback on your website via a comprehensive rating system, with the requirement that everyone first give quality feedback before receiving feedback from others. Oh, did I mention that it’s free?


Usabilla

Usabilla allows you to collect feedback for any web page, mock-up, sketch or image. Participants (who you are responsible for finding) simply point and click to share their opinions. Paid plans start at $49 per year, but you can start with five pages for free.


Feedback Army

Feedback Army lets you pose specific questions to a panel of reviewers about anything related to your website. This tool is very helpful for seeing the reactions of others to your website’s particular processes (such as placing an order or signing up for an account). Ten different responses will cost you $10. (UserTesting.com provides a similar service.)


Creattica

Creattica brings together a group of top-notch designers looking to share a wide range of design projects. Membership and participation is free, but feedback is limited to labeling items as “favorites.”


Five Second Test

Five Second Test invites random people to look at your website for five seconds and then give feedback on what they remember of the design and other “prominent elements of your user interface.” Probably not the best tool for in-depth analysis of your work, but a great one to gauge first impressions. Free and paid plans (starting at $4) are available.


Notable App

Notable is a collaborative feedback tool for web designers (similar to ConceptShare and ProofHQ). The free plan includes up to three users, but you’re on your own for finding willing subjects.


Please Critique Me

Please Critique Me is where a panel of web design experts picks out websites from among user submissions to give extensive feedback. They can’t provide criticism to everyone, but submitting your work is certainly worth a shot.

 

Creating Quality Work

A good web design rarely just happens. It is refined over time by having others (and occasionally you yourself) do everything from kicking the tires to taking it for a full test drive.

Putting aside your ego and opening up to criticism might be hard at first, but feedback from others combined with your creativity make for an excellent product that you and your clients will be proud of.


Aaron Griffith is part of the Concept Feedback team, a community of designers and marketers dedicated to sharing ideas and feedback on design projects. You can learn more at ConceptFeedback.com or follow the team on Twitter.

Where do you go to get feedback? Do you know of any other great resources that we may have not mentioned here? Please leave us your *feedback* below…

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  • http://www.jasonagross.com Jason Gross

    Haha I always ask my mom! My mother and my girlfriend always screen my new designs first. Between the 3 of us we represent a pretty vast cross-section of internet users and it’s massively helpful to see how people who don’t have a web design mindset or even a computer mindset will interact with your work.

  • http://lenatailor.designerteam.info Lena Tailor

    Interesting read.
    I think Ask Our Community is the best way to get the right feedback. i have been using Creattica, i found it very. useful

  • http://www.jordanwalker.net Jordan Walker

    My mom is a great woman to ask!

  • http://www.bickov.com Alexander Bickov

    Agree, useful info and tips for analytics

  • http://www.illuminateddesigngroup.com David Richmond

    - This is a very useful set of resources to get feedback from my designs. I have found critiques and feedback essential to effective design and marketing. Thank you!

  • http://www.logolitic.com logolitic

    agree, maybe there is something that you like and the users that visit and use your website don`t, so you obey and make the changes to be useful and good for users, not just for you.

  • http://www.cpasitesolutions.com/ Brian O’Connell

    This is an outstanding article, especially the “Ask Your Mom” section. As web professionals it’s very easy to forget that not everybody see’s the web the way we do. The fresh perspective of a less informed user, especially in regards to navigation, is perhaps the most valuable tool at your disposal.

  • http://www.energizedit.com Mark Spidle

    Nice article and resources for site feedback. I didn’t know sites like that were out there.

  • http://goldennetwork.net usa cheap webdesign

    Nice post ! thank uu for sharing ! Really interesting tips for community feedback.

  • http://www.chrissandersdesign.com Chris Sanders

    Ask your mom is perfect, I agree with Brian O’Connell on this point. It is so easy to get up in what you might think is “cool” that we can forget about what is “usable”.

  • http://www.designlint.com Zach

    Great article!

    I think one of the most important things to remember is to closely scrutinize your feedback. I have been in situations where people just want to fix every problem uncovered during review. Sometimes you may have just one person complain about something from a whole group of people. In these situations you must look at the issue and chose either to pursue it or to back-burner it.

  • http://theyoboo.blogspot.com Stelian Andrei

    I’ve never asked my mom about a website but I do have a certain person (*read boss) who gives his opinions on every design. The good thing is he sees a design as a real user. The bad thing is he also sees the design from the point of view of a monkey just discovering the Internet. And a lot of design issues start afterwords …

  • http://www.kaplang.com/blog Kaplang

    great post :) I use concept feedback quite often.

  • http://www.xariskalamaras.gr kostas

    i always ask my mom before do anything!

  • http://www.onlinehotel.com.br Jack

    It is really necessary to ask as many people as possible.

  • http://www.3point7designs.com Ross Johnson

    I am surprised you didn’t mention “your user.” Certainly no group is more important that the ones that are going to support the business or organization. Granted other forms of input can also be constructive but I would think the users are number one.

  • http://3circlestudio.com/ Justin Carroll

    Totally dig the first part of the article. Weary of the critique sites though. I say stick with the 4 people and the plumber.

  • http://hexacreative.web.id Hexacreative

    Let’s do the meeting with family before launch the website.

  • http://www.arisyizimah.com arisyi

    Interesting read.
    I think Ask Our Community is the best way to get the right feedback

  • http://www.pixel-air.co.uk Pixel Air Web Design Cheshire

    I always ask my wife because i know she’ll be completely honest. No point in asking someone who doesn’t want to hurt your feelings if they don’t like your site/design.

    Forums and feedback sites are great and you’ll get the most honest comments there.

    If you are asking your nearest and dearest try and be there when they look at the site – you can watch their reaction as well as mouse movements!

  • Ido

    Have registerd with “Concept Feedback” looks really nice! :)
    thank you for the recommendation

  • http://www.cdnmobilesolutions.com Mobile Application Development Company

    Awesome ideas. I have never heard of this type of groups or communities before to get a feedback. Feedback from different people help us to let know our website issues much better. We are developing our website thats why it is always good from our point, but we must know what the users think about it, Is is easily accessible for them, Is it user Friendly, Is it provide user a platform to know what to do next(call to action). Taking feedback from
    1) A person who is not related to design development.
    2) Who is your targeted Customer, Client.
    3) People providing related services.

    will help us to improve our site UX.

  • http://www.nopun.com Noel Wiggins

    I have herd of these online solutions but am glad you have a quick reference here.

    But I really like the ask the big name.

    There is definitely a short list of people I would love to hear their feedback with and with twitter and emails posted on websites it should be pretty easy to ping them a short request…

    Thanks and Regards

    Noel for Nopun.com

  • http://chaaps.com Chethan

    This is an Awesome Post!

  • http://www.mrpapercut.com Mischa Rodermond

    For my personal designs my girlfriend is the first person to respond, but I find myself taking her criticism quite hard. Asking my mom on the other hand doesn’t generate any feedback because all I do seems magical in her eyes. So either everything I do is a work of art or she just doesn’t understand what I want from her.

    On the other hand, since recently at work we’re building all websites in compliance to the government guidelines (w3c compliant, open source & accessibility). The first two are easy, but the last one is a real pain. We recently hired a blind person to instruct us on how he uses the web. That was quite an eye-opener (pun intended). Bottom line there: all your visual tricks may impress your fellow designer, but for the average person that doesn’t have a designer’s eye, your tricks are useless at best, and obstructing at worst.

    My point of advise here: visual design is very important, but building a great website goes far beyond visual tricks.

  • http://pollyfolio.com/ Polly

    Very enjoyable read, and a pretty useful list of websites for collecting feedback. Thank you!

  • http://www.greenandchic.com Carla | Green and Chic

    I love “ask your mom”. Its something I haven’t thought of and you brought up a really good point! Ask people who are not in your industry. What I did was send a survey to my customers and I got a lot of good feedback.

  • http://electrofikr.com/ electrofikr

    Very true, it is amazing what kind of questions you get from beginners, very helpful.

  • http://prensaymedia.com Charlie

    Really nice article, I’ve never asked my mom. And all the suggestions are more than fine!!

  • Dan

    Funny, I tend to disagree. Asking everyone else other than yourself, your target market and maybe another designer most of the times cause headaches and degrade the work.

    I see designers as professionals who should do their work and research before doing the design. If I trust my designer and I feel like the site does represent my company I have no reason to ask ‘my mom’. For instance, if I go see a doctor and he says I have a cold I’m not going to ask my mom what her opinion is.

    The only non professional I would ask a design question to is myself. If I don’t like the site then I won’t feel like pouring my life into it.

    User testing Yes, ask everyone to do the tasks. Opinions on design… unless the person you are asking has some sort of training then no thank you.

  • Dan

    Actually, this is the story of my life, thats why I want professional opinions.

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell

    Look at the final product. I bet 50% of non professional opinions will choose the ‘bad’ design.

  • Mark Ackerman

    I’ve used Usabila, but a much better tool for running online user testing is Loop11 (www.Loop11.com). Loop11 is a full service user testing tool which captures a whole range of usability metrics. Anyone serious about usability should be using Loop11.

  • http://edittag.com edittag

    very nice article, thanks!

  • http://www.sugarcatblog.com Rachel

    Really useful article, thanks. I especially liked point 3.

    It would be interesting to do a follow-up article about how you react to, and use, the feedback (because not all of it will be valid). I’m sure I can’t be the only one who shouts ‘That person has NO IDEA what they’re talking about’ on receiving negative feedback. ;)

  • Geoff Paddock

    Why not ask the most important audience – your website users – direct? I am working with a novel system that a group of large multinational companies are using called the E-Corporate Barometer , which asks users questions and compiles and benchmarks the data so the organisations involved can see who is the highest rated by users. It is ideal to benchmark a new site before and after publication, or for finding out if you are delivering what your users really want. For more information on the system please look at http://ecbarometer.wordpress.com/

  • http://apt2labs.com Daniel “Diggler” Proczko

    It’s always amazing how much insight “Mom” has on all topics. I’m sure if you asked “Mom” about quantum physics she’s find your answer!

    Loved it! Thanks!

  • http://www.elmastudio.de Manuel

    My mom knows a lot about websites – every time good to ask.

  • http://www.adriancrellin.co.uk Isle of Man Web Design

    A great article, thanks.

    I always find it difficult after spending a good while on a single project, to decide which bits really work and which don’t. I would definitely agree with what you said about getting away from a design for a couple of days or so and then looking at things with fresh eyes.

    Thanks for the list of sites to look for feedback from too, very handy!

  • http://www.suvarim.com suvarim

    Really nice article thanks…..

  • http://www.onlinemediainc.biz Jamey Nevius

    I would like a solid basic low cost application to scrub against the DNC list for the telemarketing strategy I’m getting ready to perform. Should someone know a good one?

  • http://www.e-xronos.gr Κατασκευή Ιστοσελίδων

    my mom is a web designer!!!

  • david

    If there was one that I would pick to be the most important it would definitely be number 3. Revisit it after at least a 24 hour period, it’s amazing the little nuances you’ll discover that weren’t there the day before. This works with copy writing as well.

    Another great post, thanks!

  • http://www.loginet.gr Κατασκευή Ιστοσελίδας

    Asking someone who is not in the industry can give you a great feedback. It always depends on your target group.

  • http://www.brettwidmann.com Brett Widmann

    This is a great article. Getting input from all these people will surely help one create an optimal design with great functionality if applicable.

  • http://www.thedoctorsinfo.com ali ch.

    This is an Awesome…………..!

  • Richard

    Who better than to ask your art director who has 10+ years experiance in web design. I decided to ask him for cristism on a personal project of mine and got a whole load of useful information in return. I shall be doing it more often. As for anyone else, people will be able to tell you what may be wrong but will be poor at giving any alternative solutions. And if people dont know design they may be misguiding you by saying its good, or just saying its good in order to not hurt your feelings.