Unlocking the full potential of user feedback for your product


Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya

Collecting, researching, analyzing and acting on user feedback is the key to unlocking the full potential of your product. By understanding user needs and preferences through user research and feedback, you can create a more user-friendly, successful product. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to effectively utilize and collect quality user feedback to create a better product.

1. The Secret sauce of user feedback

The secret sauce

It is very tempting to build something that users say they want. It’s almost as if they are giving you the answers to the test! Here’s the problem with that; there is (often) a huge divide between what people do vs what they say. Okay, so what’s the worst that can happen if you design for what people say vs what they do? 

Ask Walmart. 

Back in 2009, Walmart executives were looking for new ways to increase profits by experimenting with their store layout. One huge difference with their rival, Target, was how packed Walmart’s stores were. So they asked their customers, “would you like Walmart aisles to be less cluttered?” The majority of responses was yes. 

This led to a major multi million dollar retrofit of their stores, reducing shelf space by 15%. 

The result? 

Almost 2 billion in lost revenue occurred over the course of 8 years before returning to their original store layout. 

So what went wrong? 

There were two glaring flaws in their approach.

  1. As mentioned before, they were approaching the survey assuming that what people say is the same as what people want. 
  2. Those who took the survey were given the option of a yes or no answer, giving no context for their response. Don’t try to validate your hypothesis with a yes or no question.

These two factors became a recipe for disaster for Walmart. Surveys are useful if you know how to use them  however they will always leave out the most important facet of the data, the why. Talking to your users and mining the conversations for insightful gems can really help your decision making process.

2. Collecting user feedback

For research purposes

As we illustrated above, how you collect user feedback will shape the scope and nature of the feedback you receive. Having a user researcher will help make sure you gather the right type of user data.

Quantitative data

To put it simply, this type of data answers questions such as “how much, how many, and how often.” Collecting this type of information is an opportunity to measure product performance. Here is a list of the most useful techniques for collecting this type of data. 

  • A/B Testing 
  • Eyetracking
  • Tree Testing
  • Surveys or Questionnaires

Qualitative data

Put plainly, this is where we look at patterns in human behavior, mining insights from user comments, motivations and goals. Collecting this particular type of data is a great way to see how your product aligns with user expectations. Here is a short list of some of the most impactful research methods. 

  • Participant observations
  • User Interviews
  • Card Sorting
  • Diary Studies

3. How to analyze user feedback

analyze user feedback

Now that you have collected user feedback, it’s time to analyze it and find actionable insights that can help improve your product. Here are some tips on how to effectively analyze user feedback:

Look for trends and patterns

Analyzing user feedback involves identifying common themes and patterns that emerge across multiple responses. This way you can identify areas where your product is doing well, and where improvements can be made.

Focus on the most important feedback

Not all feedback is created equal. Focus on feedback that relates to the core features of your product, and the most common pain points experienced by your users. This will help you prioritize your efforts and make meaningful improvements.

Keep an open mind

While it’s important to focus on the most important feedback, don’t disregard feedback that may be critical or negative. Use this as an opportunity to improve your product and better understand your users’ needs and expectations.

Utilize analytics tools

There are many tools available that can help you analyze user feedback more effectively, such as sentiment analysis, word clouds, and heat maps. These tools can help you identify trends and patterns more quickly, and make data-driven decisions that can lead to product improvements.

4. Conclusion

Each phase of user feedback gathering and analyzing user feedback has its own distinct challenges. Following a procedure that allows you and your team to be open but not overwhelmed to each piece of data is a great first step. Framing your questions can steer people’s feedback around the very insights that you need. Walmart was right in looking for more feedback but the way they phrased their questions cost them billions.  Don’t settle just for yes or no questions for large company choices. Get the insight you and your users deserve with an experienced team. 

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