Many of us have heard of the concept of Perpetual Beta which basically means that a system never leaves beta and is constantly having new features added. I would like to talk about the concept of Perpetual Feedback.
I’ve done some searching and haven’t found any resources citing the term Perpetual Feedback. The concept itself isn’t really new, but I would like to put a new spin or face to idea of website feedback.
I remember years ago implementing a feedback form on some websites I was working on. It was a simple mail form that captured contact information, comments and maybe a rating of the site. The submissions all got sent to my e-mail box for me to respond to as I could. For the time, it seemed to work. But looking back, it was a very inefficient method.
Perpetual Feedback is more than a form on your website where visitors can send you some comments. It’s about providing mechanisms, sometimes multiple ones, for visitors to offer detailed suggestions and ratings, or to monitor visitation habits on your website. Not just as your website as a whole, but each individual page – especially those that have call to actions. But Perpetual Feedback is even more than that. It’s about being able to apply metrics to your feedback and analyze trends, both in ratings, comments and habits. If we simply receive feedback and analyze trends in the feedback, we are still falling short of the concept of Perpetual Feedback. It’s about analyzing the trends and adjusting our course online. The Web is a dynamic environment like the ocean, ranging from tremendous tidal waves to small splashes.
I would like to share a an example to demonstrate the importance of Perpetual Feedback.
The compass on a large freighter is off by 5 degrees. After going a distance of 1000 miles, the freighter is off course by about 100 miles. That could mean the freighter would miss their destination or worse crash with an unknown object. The freighter could turn around once they realized their error, but the effort and cost to do so would be quite significant.
How does that example apply to websites and Perpetual Feedback. If we resort to only having usability studies, surveys or other forms of feedback received and acted upon only once a year or even quarterly, the effort to adjust your Web efforts would take more time and money than responding to change and issues as they happen.
There are number of ideas and tools available to assist in your implementation of Perpetual Feedback. The folks at Conversion Rate Experts have a great article that highlights 14 tools that you can use to implement Perpetual Feedback. There are so many to pick from and each offers a unique look into your visitor’s online habits. It can become a little overwhelming, just like deciding which social media sites to leverage or be a part of. I suggest you look at what you’re hoping to accomplish and pick the top 3 or 4 tools to start with, or if you’re very overwhelmed, start with just one.
It’s important to note that quantitative data (website analytics) is not enough to prevent your website from going off course. Be sure to use qualitative data (usability, surveys, etc.) in conjunction with the qualitative data.
Do you have other tools in your arsenal that could be applied to Perpetual Feedback? Please share them here.