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Enhancing the User Experience of the User Experience (through User Experience)

Duo on April 2, 2014

Is a revolving door of feedback the future of UX or will we grow exhausted by the constant back and forth?

Last week Mike (one of our inbound marketing interns) sent our team a link with the subject line “Cool Article Feature”. A little vague, Mike, but I’ll bite.  

“Hi team! I found this really cool article about UX that had a way to respond to what you read as you read it. Let me know what you think.”

I followed the link to a post titled, Your 5-Minute guide to UX From Squarespace and Mailchimp. What Mike found cool was not the post itself (although this is a handy 5-minute roadmap to understanding UX as promised) but rather the level of interactivity that was built into the content.

At the end of each paragraph, you have the opportunity to give your feedback on the information you have just read. When you hover over the three small grey circles you are greeted with a pop-up window:

Once you 'click to respond' you are greeted with another pop-up. This second window displays a list of options for you to click and give your feedback. It even includes a single-line text field to insert your own reaction if the ones provided don't match your experience. 

If a paragraph has already received feedback from another reader, you can hover over the three circles to see their reactions to the content. You are able to comment on the content while simultaneously assessing what your fellow audience base thinks. You don't need to scroll to the end of the post to see what others have commented to know if you are reacting to the content in a similar way.

I reread the piece (yes all the way through) three times. I played with the buttons and looked at what my fellow readers thought before understanding my multiple, and conflicting, reactions to this request to react.

Cue the creation of an exchange.

Throughout the piece I am getting a soft ask for something in return for the words I am consuming.

Sure, I could ignore the little grey dots and access the content for free but I can also provide something valuable (my feedback), in return for the value I am receiving (his article). Comments and content are the new currency, baby!

Why he’s so successful at getting feedback (I would love to know the overall viewership of this post and the conversion rate of visits vs. reactions) is that the price for the exchange is low. Content creators are obsessed with conversions and Sven has moved beyond the focus on the request for more information, i.e – the acquisition of the coveted email address.

Observe the value scale.

Essentially this post has undergone a type of edit by committee, which will help shape and influence his future writings. If a majority of the feedback falls under the “Duh” bucket, Sven may want to reassess what he’s writing for his audience in the future. He might not be doing a deep enough dive into the content that matters most to his core audience.

If several comments reflect the “Not entirely accurate” sentiment, he may want to beef up the content with more research. This feedback is invaluable to the author as he is conducting primary research on his target audience and buyer personas. Knowing who his audience is will allow him to better tailor the content in the future, ultimately growing his business, blog, and community of followers. 

Creating this channel for in-line feedback allows for authors to measure the effectiveness of their content beyond the number of social shares or comments a post receives.

While we’re on the subject of social shares and comments…

There are three primary types of readers in this world: actual readers, scanners, and bottom-feeders. Unfortunately (and this should come as no surprise) a majority of people won’t read the content that you pour your blood, sweat, and tears into.

However, if they can synthesize that your content is valuable enough they are bound to share it. If an article will give them knowledge cache amongst their peers you can bet they will be linking to it on Twitter and Facebook. This sharing of content is fabulous! It increases your social reach and raises your brand identity.

But the number of shares of an article doesn’t necessarily give you the insight you’re looking for as an author. This is where this in-line feedback option definitely gives you better insight as to whether or not the content you’re creating is actually relevant to the audience you’re writing to.

Comments. Comments. Comments.
The real value of blog comments is up for debate. Some folks swear by them and some are throwing them to the wayside. Many on the Internet wax poetic about the days when insightful discussions took place in comment sections and like-minded readers could bond over their shared opinions. If you’ve frequented a comment section lately your reaction probably sounds something like this: HA. It’s hard to extract any actual feedback from comments sections when they are plagued with malice. Again, here is a great example of where capturing these in-line reactions surpasses the traditional methods of receiving feedback from readers. 

The content mimics the concept.

Ultimately this in-line reaction allows the user to provide feedback on their experience to which you would hope the author would then take into consideration in the future. The user experience is enhancing their user experience through user experience. (My mind was blown too.)

At the time of publishing, the post has garnered 123 reactions, 3 comments, 275 tweets, and 346 likes on facebook. Here you can see the breakdown of the 123 reactions. 

One more thing: Although “The Ask” for feedback is simple and involves just two clicks – is it two clicks too many? With the monstrous amount of content crammed onto everything we touch digitally, do users have the brain space to meaningfully interact with everything they read, if they are even reading it?

I find myself hitting my limit on content capacity all the time. I get exhausted and exit. So the question is, how can we as writers, creators, and marketers continue to cut through the noise to ensure our audiences are finding our stuff, reading our stuff, and liking our stuff?

Maybe it does start with the simple question: What does my user think?

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