The real feedback is to be found in early user experiences

January 7, 2022
4
min read
The real feedback is to be found in early user experiences
Amanda Winstead
by
Amanda Winstead

Many companies rely heavily on internal feedback and direction rather than trusting their users to share exactly what they need for an excellent user experience. 

Even when companies gather feedback from their users, most are waiting until the end of the development lifecycle to do so. As a result, their development team isn’t as productive and they cannot create a product their users are proud of

Instead, bring user feedback into the process as early as possible. When you source feedback from users early on, you can develop products that authentically meet the needs of your users. 

Before we dive into how to source feedback, let’s explore the importance of sourcing feedback from users early and often. 

The importance of sourcing user feedback early and often 

Unfortunately, there are many developers creating products that they think their users will love and never think to actually ask their users what they want. As a result, their products fall short on the user experience scale. 

Sourcing user feedback early ensures that users are excited about the product you want to create and find it useful before beginning the development process. Early user feedback also makes it possible to target where users get stuck, resolve those issues, and fix bugs before an official rollout. 

Once you start development, you can make critical pivots during the development process that keep you aligned with what users need. 

You can also find out how someone would use your product naturally. Armed with this information, you can then revise your design to make it easier for your users to do what they want to do when they need to do it. 

Ultimately, sourcing feedback from users before, during, and after development is crucial to giving them an incredible user experience. And a fantastic user experience usually results in repeat customers and brand ambassadors that produce more revenue. 

Now, let’s look at how you can source feedback early and often from your users to ensure your final products are exactly what you’re customers need. 

How to source feedback early and often 

Here’s how to source feedback, early, often, and with confidence: 

Define the goals you’d like to achieve with user feedback 

The first step to sourcing feedback early is determining what you want to learn when asking for feedback. For instance, do you want to learn what users think about a specific feature? Are you interested in finding out about your user’s overall experience with your product? Do you want to know what users feel about an idea before it becomes an actual project?

Whatever you want to learn from your users, be sure it’s definitive and documented. 

Next, develop a plan for how you’ll source feedback. 

Develop a plan for how you’ll source feedback 

You must develop a plan for how you’ll source input from your users each time you do it. For instance, you could send out an email survey with an incentive attached to it. You could invite specific users to a one-on-one interview where they test your product and chat with you after. 

You could also put on a user experience workshop. Experts define user experience workshops as a crucial starting point of any user experience project because they help teams empathize with customers, define problems within the customer journey, and brainstorm solutions to those problems.

Putting on user experience workshops is vital because they help you find out what’s working and what isn’t with your product and reveal what your users need to have the best experience. 

After developing a plan for how you’ll source feedback, determine who you’ll source feedback from. 

Determine who you’ll source feedback from 

Determining who you’ll source feedback from is essential because you want to ensure you’re getting the most authentic, helpful feedback possible. Of course, you should know who your target audience is and have them segmented appropriately, so you know who’s best to ask for feedback. 

Once you determine who you’ll source feedback from, send out your first request for feedback before development begins. 

Gather feedback before development begins 

Gather feedback before development begins to see if the scope and project specifications resonate well with users. This ensures your time is spent productively during the development process and that resources are allocated appropriately. 

Based on the feedback you get before development, you can adjust the scope of your project to reflect your users’ design, function, and feature suggestions. Then, start developing and continue gathering feedback. 

Start developing and continue gathering feedback 

Once you’ve improved the scope of your project based on the feedback from users, you can dive into development. You can ask users to test specific features and functions as they roll out. You can also develop prototypes for users to gather feedback before you get to the final product. 

Lastly, hold retrospective meetings to reflect on the feedback and development processes. 

Hold retrospective meetings 

Once you’ve gone through your feedback process, it’s best to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and how to improve. You can do so effectively with a retrospective meeting. A retrospective meeting is meant to go over the ins and outs of a project once it’s complete, including user feedback. 

To hold a productive retrospective meeting, do the following: 

  • Create a safe space for everyone to express themselves authentically 
  • Encourage everyone to participate and talk about why a retrospective meeting is necessary 
  • Create a meeting agenda and share it before the meeting
  • Dive into the project, starting with the positives 
  • Ask critical questions to spark conversation 
  • Leave the session with an action plan 

Conclusion 

Although finding out what users think after a product is complete is common, the real feedback can be found in early user experiences. Mull over why sourcing feedback from users early on is essential, and then implement the process above to ensure you’re going about it productively. 

About the author:

Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.

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