The following experts have contributed answers to this edition of Ask UXmatters:
- Steve Baty—Principal of Meld Studios; President of IxDA; UXmatters columnist
- Caroline Jarrett—Owner and Director at Effortmark Limited; UXmatters columnist
- Whitney Quesenbery—Principal Consultant at Whitney Interactive Design; Past-President, Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA); Fellow, Society for Technical Communications (STC); UXmatters columnist
Q: Do you ever use customer feedback surveys? What questions do you ask? What weight do you give the responses in measuring the success of a product?—from a UXmatters reader
“If you want to obtain useful data from a survey, you have to ask questions that people can answer meaningfully and that are phrased in ways that people can understand, and pose questions that they are willing to answer,” replies Whitney. “Most of all, make sure that you find a way to let people tell you what they want to tell you—rather than restricting them to simply answering your questions. You might be surprised by what you find out!
“I like the qualitative data we get from asking questions about why a person has come to a site or used a product. For example, to get users’ help with categorization, you can pair an open-ended response with a response to a closed question—including none of the above—as long as you are sure that the categories you offer are meaningful to them!
“It can also be helpful to ask users to categorize themselves in terms of broad audience categories. I find this approach to gathering data more useful when doing research for specific sections of a site than for a home page. This is especially true if you are looking at a feature you’re aiming at a particular market segment. You might be most interested in learning why people are using an application or site. Is there an audience or user story that you haven’t thought of?
“I know that marketing folks are really fond of quantitative responses to questions about how much people like a product and whether they would recommend it,” continues Whitney. “But, unless you have a very strong context, I tend to wonder whether those types of responses are of any value in themselves. However, if you are careful to ask the same questions of all research participants, the data can be very valuable as a comparative indicator of trends.”