In addition to being a practitioner, I teach Usability and Interactive Design classes at Philadelphia University.
When discussing the quality of user feedback I show Malcolm Galdwell's amazing video on TED. In the video he discusses the faults, variance and effectiveness of user testing. In less than 15 minutes the lesson is learned and stays with the student.
On another point this week's episode of House drives the same point home in less than 20 seconds. I won't spoil for the DVR time shifting crew but it is quite amusing.
Hope this helps,
PDA Media, Inc
To: Tony Profeta
Subject: [IxDA] The Value Of User Surveys
Sent: Oct 6, 2010 12:18 PM
My client contact, several of my contacts employees, and the founder of the
company have indicated a strong belief that, based on user surveys they have
conducted, their site is "pretty darn good".
Part of the process I am working to implement will include user testing
the design phase. Does anyone have good counter points to why user surveys
should be taken with a grain of salt and not considered the
"end-all-be-all" judgment of a website.
Note: I haven't yet had the chance to review the surveys so I can't comment
as to the quality of the questions (i.e. are they leading). I do know that
conducted the surveys by emailing users and asking them to participate.
Examples I thought of:
When you obtain survey
results based on an existing design that is 'in the wild' users are
typically compelled to be nice. People taking the survey don't want to be
If you test a prototype with users who understand that, what they are
seeing, is /not/ final you are more likely to get honest feedback.
Typically users who volunteer
to take the time to complete a survey are happy with the product in
question. People who are /unhappy/ with a product/site complain to
customer support and are annoyed already and therefore won't waste any
more time to complete a survey. We need to hear the bad stuff as
well as the good.
Thanks in advance
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