So you’ve started your company, you’ve been building like crazy, and you’ve just launched your first prototype. What’s the next step (after congratulating yourself, of course)? Well, sit back, watch, and—get ready to learn.
As you see your first few users try out your product, you should be asking yourself (and them!) all kinds of questions: Were the assumptions on which you built the product correct? Do users find it captivating and valuable? What’s missing? What’s confusing? Often times, you’ll find that there are features that you thought were important to users that aren’t—and vice versa.
So, once you launch your alpha, your beta, or really any major product or feature, use these methods for collecting great feedback.
1. Use a Live Chat Feature
Companies like Olark allow you to add live chat to your website in a matter of minutes, allowing anyone visiting your site to send an instant message to someone at your company. Having this very open line of communication makes it easy for visitors to ask questions and report problems immediately—meaning that your team learns about issues as they’re happening. One year in, our team at InstaEDU still relies heavily on live chat to communicate with our students and tutors.
2. Follow up on Email
This may sound like overkill, but I strongly recommend sending an email to every new user in the early days of any product. Following someone’s first session on your website, send an email asking about his or her experiences and soliciting feedback. Gmail canned responses (followed by a bulk email system like MailChimp) can streamline this process. Not only will you get some helpful suggestions, but you’ll also promote a feeling of ownership among your first community of users.
3. Track Analytics
Services like Mixpanel, KISSmetrics, and Google Analytics let you see where your traffic is coming from and what users do when they hit your site. This is incredibly useful for understanding what pages people visit, how much time they spend on your site, and where they drop off. Any time you have a multi-step conversion funnel (i.e., multiple steps users must take before becoming customers), analytics tracking is an absolute must. You definitely want to understand where people are backing out or losing interest.
4. Do User Testing
Even the best analytics platforms can’t tell you exactly why users click to certain places or choose to leave your site. So, conducting user tests (by either bringing people into your office or by using sites like UserTesting.com) can help you get a better understanding of what people are actually thinking when they use your product. Ask users to complete a task on your website, sit with them, and have them talk through their actions and thoughts as they do it. Take careful notes or record the session so you can refer back and identify common themes or pain points.
Throughout these four methods of gathering feedback, don’t be alarmed if you see people using your site differently than you anticipated, getting confused about parts of the product, or wanting features that weren’t on your roadmap. We’ve released updates to InstaEDU that were overly complicated or lacked obvious features in hindsight, but saw clear points where we could simplify things after receiving feedback and looking at the numbers. Each time we’ve gone through this process, we’ve been able to improve conversion numbers and get better feedback from our users.
As much as it’s easy to think you know what your customers want, it’s basically impossible to figure out what people will want from a product (or how they’ll use it) before it’s live. Your job as an entrepreneur is to learn as much as possible and make improvements accordingly.
TopicsEntrepreneurship , Startups , Syndication , Start-up Smarts by Alison Johnston , Running a Business
Alison Johnston Rue is the CEO and cofounder of InstaEDU, an online tutoring company that makes it possible for student to get high-quality, one-on-one academic support the moment they need it. Previously, Alison worked for several awesome technology companies, including Box, Aardvark, Nextdoor and Google. She loves to travel and has a disturbingly large collection of hot sauces.More from this Author