Listening vs. Obeying
Whenever you make changes to your Web site, or product, or service, or business in general, you are guaranteed to receive feedback that ranges from “I love it” to “I don’t like this particular feature” (opinion) to “This feature is broken” (fact) to “This feature makes it harder to _____ (fill in the blank)” (fact).
In our case, we recently updated the SBI! Forums, my favorite meeting place. There was some great feedback about the changes, but no “I hate it” global-type comments (phew!) — just “points” for us to consider.
The key, when listening to feedback, is to differentiate between listening and obeying…
You obey facts… what’s broken, what’s harder to read (that could be opinion, but not when the statement meets usability guidelines), and so forth. You consider opinions, when enough people share the same ones.
Let’s use one of our Forum changes as an example… reading is harder when text is grey-on-blue (on one part of the page). So when a few folks noticed a rather subtle change on one part of the page, we decided to change that because it wouldn’t bother those with better eyes but it would make it easier for those who have trouble with it. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. We had crossed the line on readability.
Some comments about the Forums, on the other hand, did boil down to change — we watched those to see how many people felt the same way. Some were “one-ofs.” Most people get used to one-ofs quickly.
Other observations were bugs (ex., sayings in the right margin of the Forum pages). But folks thought they were there on purpose. Either way, enough people found them annoying and even if we had made that change intentionally, we would have removed them.
If you listen to your customers, you will never go wrong. You will, in fact, differentiate yourself and have a better product for it. Use their comments because many pairs of fresh eyes are sharing feedback in good will. Use them to make your change even better, to reverse parts that don’t work, to fix bugs, etc.
But if you obey all feedback, not only will you go stark raving mad, you’ll ruin your product.
Always remember… at the end of the day, you listen to your customers. Then it’s up to you to make the right calls to improve.
All the best,