In your face

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.

About Stearns

Howard Stearns works at High Fidelity, Inc., creating the metaverse. Mr. Stearns has a quarter century experience in systems engineering, applications consulting, and management of advanced software technologies. He was the technical lead of University of Wisconsin's Croquet project, an ambitious project convened by computing pioneer Alan Kay to transform collaboration through 3D graphics and real-time, persistent shared spaces. The CAD integration products Mr. Stearns created for expert system pioneer ICAD set the market standard through IPO and acquisition by Oracle. The embedded systems he wrote helped transform the industrial diamond market. In the early 2000s, Mr. Stearns was named Technology Strategist for Curl, the only startup founded by WWW pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. An expert on programming languages and operating systems, Mr. Stearns created the Eclipse commercial Common Lisp programming implementation. Mr. Stearns has two degrees from M.I.T., and has directed family businesses in early childhood education and publishing.

One Comment

  1. Yes, if you expect significant volume of comments from the users. As the design matures and there is less to report on, I’d guess that providing a very evident way to provide feedback may not be as valuable.

    Just a thought though…

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