A couple of weeks back, I joined a few fellow TEClings on a trip to the offices of a True portfolio company where we provided some feedback and product testing on one of the company’s popular apps. The session was recorded and later viewed by their team. It’s hard at first to be brutally harsh about some things but if you put yourself into their shoes, the harsh advice is likely the most valuable.
It has always been clear to me that companies value user feedback in the development of their products. However, my experiences so far with TEC have exposed me to how incredibly crucial it is for startups to evaluate their users’ experience. A lot of times, it comes down to deciding which user requested features to implement. They have to decide whether those features fit their vision for the product even if it’s a widely requested feature. It has been interesting to see the number of ways that companies evaluate what users want in the ideation stage (and even later) and how they eventually gauge the quality of their experience.
Surveying your target demographic seems to be the most effective way to pin down some ideas in the early stages of your company. How do you do this effectively though? You can go out into the “field” and talk to people on the street. One company that came in to talk to us did exactly this, using iPads to lure passing strangers to conduct a survey. They mentioned that a lot of people simply enjoyed playing with the iPad and as a result went ahead and took the survey.
Alternatively, you can do all the surveying by buying targeted traffic and sending it to a survey or a landing page with some type of A/B test. Funneling targeted traffic in this way may also help you pick a logo or design or even a name for your product in your earliest stage.
Often times with a newly launched product, you see a feedback tab tucked into the side of the design of the site. Personally, I’ve never used those tabs, not because I don’t have any feedback but simply because it’s inconvenient for me. I think that feedback requests should be integrated into the flow of the product in a non-intrusive way (easier said than done) rather than passively sitting on the sidelines.
The first two solutions are expensive but indefinitely important. After all, you are building the product for the user. As a user, product testing is actually kind of fun. Getting people to be honest and candid is obviously important and likely often challenging. It seems like the hardest and most expensive part is getting that user through the door to offer their 2 cents.