Stop Listening to User Feedback –

When it is harnessed incorrectly, user feedback can cost great teams massive amounts of wasted time and energy.

User feedback, research and data are core to product development. When analysed correctly, they lead to insights, resulting in better product decisions and greater satisfaction for the end users.

Yet when it is harnessed incorrectly can cost great teams massive amounts of wasted time and energy.

On face value, much of the user feedback you receive can be very straight forward. But sometimes the feedback that doesn’t appear to be a big deal, can be rather complex and indicative of a larger issue.

This is why you cannot ever take feedback at face value. Never listen to the user. Instead, understand them.

You need to understand their core motivations behind the feedback as it is crucial for the problem/objective you are potentially trying to identify. Without a defined objective, it is difficult for a proper ideation of the solution. And when this aspect of the design is ignored, it is likely to lead to wasted time invested into a redundant solution.

Let’s take a look at this example here from a user testing demo where the following suggestion is given…

Interviewer: If you could do anything with the app, what would you want?
Sam: “Could you put a search bar there, at the top of the sidebar”

Ideally, in a perfect world, you would follow up with more questions to explore how and why Sam felt that he wanted a search bar. But in reality, there could be a million reasons for why Sam would have suggested for a search bar to be implemented.

Was it due to poor information architecture?
Was it due to inaccessible search functions?
Was the browsing experience not inclusive enough?
You need to find out what Sam’s request actually stems from.

You might be able to even solve and satisfy Sam’s needs through his own suggestion but it leaves a big question mark to why he wanted. By solving a problem without truly understanding it, you risk solving an issue for one person while leaving the real problem for someone else to encounter.

When you do reach or gain a deeper understanding of the ‘why’ behind your user feedback you are able to benefit much more from it.

You will be able to shape your future assumptions better, create more accurate hypothesises and most importantly: better understand your users.

All you need to do is ask why.

Take away points

1. Always ask why. You will be pleasantly surprised.
2. Spend more time on the problem and the solution will become clear.
3. Never take things on face value.

Author: Peter Dennis Pan

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