A website feedback survey is the simplest, but most effective way, to gather valuable information about your website. Your website will not have nearly the impact if your visitors are not satisfied or worst yet, find the site hard to navigate, slow, or can not find what they are looking for! If they visit once and never return, you've lost a potential source of revenue and name recognition.
But what should you ask? Sitting down to write a survey is not always as easy as it sounds. It is extremely important to ask the right type of questions that elicit the kind of actionable information you need to improve your company's website. Once armed with valuable response data, you can enable improvements to ensure continuous "hits" to your home page.
Some of the main topics you need to include as questions in a website feedback survey include:
- Ease of navigation Your website must make it easy for your visitors to find the information they are seeking. This is a critical issue with a major impact on your website design. If it is too difficult for visitors to find links, menus, or other navigation interfaces, then they will become frustrated and not return.
- Value of information found Assuming the visitor has found what they were looking for, did they find the information of value or informative?
- Accuracy of information This topic is closely related to value of information found. For example, visitors may want to know if the information is current or updated regularly.
- Quality of writing This measure lets you know if the writing was professional, punchy, exciting, funny, or whatever tone your company wants to portray on the website. It is important to know if the visitors find the copy interesting or easy to understand.
- Quality of graphics The quality or appearance of the images on the website can have a major impact on the satisfaction of users. Many people browsing through a website are in a hurry or have already spent time searching other sites. If the visuals grab the visitor's attention, he or she may stay longer to find the information they need. The amount of time it takes the graphics to load on the visitor's computer is another thing you need to know, because a lot of visitors will not wait for graphics to display if it takes too long.
- Reliability of links This reflects to links to other pages on your site or links to external, related web sites. Broken links or links that take the user to the wrong page are something you want to avoid at all costs because it makes your web site look unprofessional and is frustrating for the visitor. Also, as search engines crawl through your site, if the spiders find bad links, it could affect your rankings. You need to ask your visitors if they had any problems linking to particular pages and, if so, which page they were on and what link they clicked.
- Expected number of return visits per year Depending on your website, this can also be a key to your success. Whether or not someone is likely to return to your website is a key indicator of how useful or helpful your site was. If you want to repeat business and you get a low score from this question, you need to improve the site and provide reasons for the visitor to return.
- How the page was found This is beneficial to your company's future marketing plans because it helps you focus on the success of your web presence campaign. It helps you understand if people are reaching you through certain search engines, advertisements, links from other website, etc. If you are spending money on advertising and people are not reaching you through the ads, then you might want to refocus your marketing campaign.
- Browser used This question will help you design or maintain a website that is compatible with the most common browsers your visitors use. Each web browser can have its own unique features and behaviors so knowing the browser and version number that people are using is very important. There are some web analysis tools that can provide you with this information as well.
- Connection speed / type This topic is related to the browser type in that it helps you design a site that suits the majority of your visitors. If everyone visiting your site is using a dial-up modem, you will want to design a site that has fewer graphics, less reliance on video or flash animation, and so forth.
- Likelihood of a return visit This is key for determining repeat customers or one-time-only visits. This question is a good measure of customer satisfaction.
- Areas of improvement A question that gives the visitor a place to write-in additional comments is extremely useful to find out exactly what the visitor thought about your site – in their own words. This is very important if you want to truly understand what information a visitor could not find, why they visited the site, why they might not want to return, etc.
- Overall rating of the web site Usually asked towards the end of the survey, this question brings it all together and lets you know the overall opinion the visitor has about your site.
- Interested in receiving updates by e-mail Ask a question about interest in further contact with your company lets you know not only whether or not you have a potential customer lead, but also if that person is interested in what you offer.
- Contact Info This is strictly optional (and you can convey that to the person taking the survey) but you may want to ask for a person's name, contact info, and if they would like more information about your products and services.
Placing a web survey on your site with questions that pinpoint these topics, as well as other questions specific to your site, will help you assess how well your site is perceived by your visitors. You can determine if the website is helping to market your products and services or if it is turning potential customers away, possibly to your competitor's website. Data from a website feedback survey can help determine the direction or changes that need to be made to make your website an asset – not a deterrent.
There are three main options to develop a website survey and post it online. You can use a survey software program that generates these surveys and reports for you or you can involve a web programmer who can generate HTML forms and scripts to process the responses. You can also use a company that specializes in survey services and have them develop the survey for you. After the survey is ready, the survey should be accessible and easy-to-find on your site – preferably on the page that has the highest amount of traffic.
A web survey that is well written and requests the right questions can be an invaluable tool to determine if your company's website is as good as it can be. You may be surprised to find out what you perceive as "working well" on you site may in fact not be of much interest to your visitors. By gathering feedback from the actual visitors you want to attract to your site, you can make sure your site is one that visitors will want to visit often, especially as a new customer.