This summer we added an exit survey to Qwaq Forums, which was presented a percentage of the time when you quit the application. I and other engineers hated the idea of popping up a survey when the user doesn’t want it. We preferred a feedback box that the users could launch themselves under the Help menu. Anyway, the board of directors were quite clear, so I implemented the survey pop-up as asked, and then in the next release I added the user-launched Help->Feedback box. I thought the exit survey would always be left blank, and that the feedback box would take over.
I was wrong…
In the three months since both were available, there have been seven times as many non-blank exit survey comments as there have been feedback comments. (All quite productive, by the way. Thank you for letting us know about stuff!)
Meanwhile we have long had a sound configuration tool that lets users adjust speaker volume, microphone gain, and so forth. It was always available under the “Tools” menu, but we had a lot of feedback about the trouble people had setting up sound devices. Now we pop-up the sound tool automatically whenever someone plugs in or unplugs a headset, microphone, or other audio device. We’re now getting a lot of positive feedback about the usefulness of the “new sound tool.” (The tool itself has been improved, including the ability to pick which sound device is used without having to go to the operating system control panel. However, the language people use in their comments suggest that they weren’t aware of or even trying the tool from the menu before.)
I think the lesson I’m learning is that when done at the right time, getting in the user’s face with a pop-up can be the right thing.