Last week after I completed a transaction on a Web site I received a survey. The company's intention was to poll me on the usability of its Web site. In the process, it asked me all the wrong questions to uncover anything remotely useful for the business of which the site is just a proxy.
The point when you design an online experience is to create a mechanism to help people do what they want to do better. The point is not to make them satisfied with your Web navigation. In that case, I had plenty of comments about how the company did not provide clarity around its service, even as the site delivered an easy flow.
Companies need to stop asking the wrong questions if they wish to learn what could make them better as a business. Ask real questions and you expand your options. For example, how does site organization map to business metrics? Even if I knew the information on your site was accurate, how on earth would that help me as a user trying to figure out if what I'm getting is good? I.e. to be confident about my decision.
“Sometimes we treat data gathering like a child in a fairy tale who has been sent out to gather mushrooms for dinner. It’s getting late and the mushrooms are far away on the other side of the river. And you don’t want to get your feet wet. But look, there are all these rocks right here. The rocks look kind of like mushrooms. So maybe no one will notice. And then you’re all sitting around the table pretending you’re eating mushroom soup and crunching on rocks.”
With all the talk about ROI, one would think by now we are learning to measure the right things and thus gather data accordingly. That means the query set is all important. Because I look to be helpful, I do fill out the comments box, when provided, with all kinds of why information. To this day, I have no idea whether anyone reads those, or does anything about it.
[image of unhelpful survey template]