Listening and responding to feedback

by Martin Reed on 5 May 2007 in Articles

Last week I wrote about the importance of making your site feedback friendly. By making it easy for your members to offer feedback and criticism, you can improve your website by taking on board their comments. After all, your members are your site’s most valuable asset.

Putting your money where your mouth is

Some readers may think I like to preach a lot of advice, but don’t actually follow it myself. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, and I will prove this in today’s article.

Thank you John Chow dot com

Yesterday I had this blog reviewed over at John Chow dot com. Overall, the review was positive and very encouraging for me on a personal level – after all this is my very first blog!

Both the review and comments from readers alerted me to the following areas for improvement:

Feedback from John Chow

Screenshot identifying criticism of this blog’s lack of graphical elements

Additionally, there were many valuable comments from John Chow’s readers – one of which I have included below:

Feedback from John Chow�s community

Screenshot further identifying criticism of this blog’s lack of graphical elements

As well as receiving feedback from the John Chow review, I am also lucky to have people comment directly on this blog with ideas for improvements:

Feedback from Community Spark

Screenshot identifying criticism of this blog’s text colour / contrast

Responding to feedback

I responded to all the feedback I received over at John Chow dot com, and here on this blog. I thanked people for taking the time to comment, and made it clear that I valued their opinion and would consider their suggestions.

This makes the commenter feel valued, and is a way of rewarding them for taking the time to comment (not all rewards need to be financial in nature you know!).

Implementing the changes

As a result of the feedback I received, the following changes have been made to this blog:

  1. A graphical ‘logo’ has been added alongside the ‘Community Spark’ title graphic to make the blog appear a little less ‘text heavy’.
  2. I have brightened the colour of the text to contrast it better with the background. Pure white was far too bright, but I think I have raised it to a better level without burning out my readers’ retinas!
  3. I now consciously add graphics to my articles where necessary and use subheadings to break up the text and make my posts easier to read.

Always ask for more feedback

So there you have it – in this article I have not only emphasised the importance of asking for and encouraging feedback, I have also placed it into context and used my own blog as an example of how to take these comments on board and respond to them.

Feedback doesn’t end there though – you should always invite feedback and suggestions, and that is exactly what I am going to do now.

What do you think about the changes I have made? Do you think they have improved the usability and accessibility of this blog? Do you have any further comments or suggestions on ways I can improve this blog’s content or design? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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Biddy May 5, 2007 at 7:35 pm

The white text is much better. The image in the header… hmm, looks kinda “slapped on so that there’s an image” to me – I liked the old “it’s all text” look :-)

And could either you or someone else please address the question of exactly what the point of MyBlogLog is? As far as I can see, it’s
1) graphically ugly in every implementation I’ve ever seen (all those disparate avatars will never look good)
2) kind of like having my browser history displayed to the world: I might want to look at some stuff without everyone knowing!
3) a total misnomer. Just because I visit a website, doesn’t mean I’m “part of a community”. And being automatically joined to such by virtue of a cookie is rather nasty.
So what have I missed? What IS the point?!

Martin Reed May 5, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Hi Biddy – thanks for your comment. I am glad the text is clearer for you to read now. As for the graphic – perhaps it looks a little ‘slapped on’ as you are familiar with the look before it was put up?

In any case, I am always open to feedback from readers – if others feel the same then I am just as happy to take it back down.

As for MyBlogLog – I cover the benefits in my post, ‘Get free traffic for your blog

Marti May 5, 2007 at 10:38 pm

I agree with Biddy, the text is a lot better now. However the logo doesn’t blend very nicely with the rest of the page, which is sad because I find the layout quite smooth.

Also it seems the menu on the top-right corner has a background color that is not quite the same as the place it is installed.

At Home Mom May 6, 2007 at 2:15 am

I have to admit that this is my first time to your blog (arrived here from John Chow) and I dont see anything wrong with the logo. The text is alright, perhaps a tad on the small side, but its fine because of the narrow columns. I personally dont like too many graphics on a blog, it really detracts from the text in general, so I like the overall look of this one. Keep up the good work.

Martin Reed May 6, 2007 at 11:37 am

Marti: I am glad you like the new text colour, the review was well worth it just to learn about this issue from other readers.

As for the menu on the top right, the background colour is deliberately a little different to contrast it from the rest of that panel.

At Home Mom: Thanks for your encouraging comments – I will take a look at the text size and see if it is possible to make it a little larger without affecting the blog’s overall presentation.

Biddy May 8, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Well, partly thanks to Martin I’ve implemented MyBlogLog – I’m still not convinced, but we shall see :-D

I’d like to see that logo with a border. Or possibly altered so that the black at the top becomes the same colour as the background: I think that might make it blend in more smoothly.

Picky, me? :-D

Martin Reed May 8, 2007 at 4:25 pm

Let me know what you think of the MyBlogLog widget – as you can tell I still haven’t installed it here as I think it will detract from the minimalist look I am after.

I may well have a play around with the logo image – I am not a graphic designer so may struggle to get it to blend in with the background.

Biddy May 11, 2007 at 1:18 pm

The round version of the logo is GREAT! Love it.

Martin Reed May 11, 2007 at 2:11 pm

Thanks for the positive comment Biddy – sometimes it pays to have a girlfriend talented in graphic design ;)

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