Over the past week, I have been sorting through user feedback our team has received from user testing. The goal is to refine the app we are working on, making it easier to use and understand. I keep an Evernote notebook handy with all of the notes from user tests. This feedback is given by people who can articulate what they love or hate and how this app makes them feel.
All of this information is insanely useful, but only if you know what to do with it. I want what any good UX Designer wants – to make a product people love and use. “It’s obvious,” I thought. “The best way to make something lovable is get rid of everything people hate. Right?”
Sometimes, negative user feedback is someone saying, “Give me more of what I love.” They simply don’t know how to say it. Of all feedback that we get, it is natural pay attention to the bad more than the good. It’s human nature. We want to improve. It is reasonable to assume we can improve by listening to negative feedback and fix the app. As true as this is, let’s take a moment and learn from the good.
Learning from Good User Feedback
I started to refine the product I’m working on by magnifying the things people love. As a result, some of the negative feedback has solved itself. The app is now more focused than ever and we have not sacrificed anything that people have missed. We’ve added a thing or two as well. The results have been amazing.
Why the positive?
After watching Kathy Sierra’s talk on creating the minimum badass user, I started to think about what we can do to make people feel awesome. If you want to know how to make people feel awesome, doesn’t it make sense to listen to what they love and why they love it? They are telling us what makes them feel awesome.
Listen to the positive feedback. Amplify what people love. Make them feel more awesome. Do this over and over. Eventually, you have a great product that makes millions of people awesome at the thing your product does.
Translating the Positive to Action
It may be difficult to translate “I love this thing” to the next design decision, but it is possible. An example might be helpful:
A sketch of the original list of categories
I was trying to make a list of categories as simple as possible. Flat, fast, easy to scroll through. It made navigating through all of the items quick and easy.
I knew that people would want to edit their categories. To hide some of the complexity, I thought this was best solved in settings. People wouldn’t be doing it that often.
When people found the edit categories section, they made simple comments in passing. “I really like this,” or “I’m glad I can edit these.”
Once users saw the edit categories screen, they were excited that they could take ownership of this list. No one had anything bad to say. We were ready to move on.
However, in the spirit of amplifying what people loved, I thought it would be a good idea to take the joy of editing the categories and make it part of the original list.
Sketch of editing categories. Users had the ability to reorder, rename and delete categories from here.
Sure, the original list is now a little more complicated, but it worked! Now, people can take ownership of this list of categories without hunting for a place to do it. They feel more in control and more awesome!
What about negative feedback?
We don’t like anyone saying bad things about us. Our egos can get in the way. We decide to fix problems by pleasing the naysayers. It is easy to convert a list of negative comments to a list of features to add or things to fix. When we do this, we miss what makes people feel awesome.
When listening to the negative feedback we need to listen for what people are actually saying. People want to feel empowered. They want to feel awesome. If we don’t give people that, then they will complain, but not in ways that are useful.
Listen to the negative user feedback in light of the praise. Challenge yourself to combine what people love with what they want. If we amplify what people love, chances are we will also give them what they want. If we listen to how we make people awesome and capitalize on that, maybe some of the critics will become fans because we are making them awesome, too.
Listen to the positive, and make sure to magnify what’s working. Your users will thank you for it.