In the loop: Good web design needs all the feedback it can get

In the loop: Good web design needs all the feedback it can get

Summary: By providing a feedback loop, you can make measurable progress with your web design.

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Some of the best things you take away from a conference are the chance encounters and unexpected nuggets of wisdom.

At the recent dConstruct culture and technology conference in Brighton, I bumped into Chris Cheshire, an ex-colleague and now a web designer at Government Digital Service.

Amidst a brief info-torrent-exchange between speakers, I recommended Tim Kadlec's Implementing Responsive Design and Chris recommended The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

Wow. It's a business book that reads like a thriller and has moral to its story too - a moral that can be summarised as:

decisions based on data

For me, one of the critical points is that a business requires a feedback loop. The better the feedback loop, the quicker the development cycle.

A feedback loop also makes designers' and developers' jobs so much easier, by ensuring any changes that are made are tested out - I was in a meeting recently where there was a discussion about the placement of a promotional block on the homepage. Without a way to test the effectiveness of its position, the argument boiled down to "I think it works best here".

Another key component of the Lean Startup feedback loop is the Minimium Viable Product — getting something out there which actually works and from which you can glean useful data which informs your next steps.

My friend Dan Buzzo, (lecturer, drag racer, artist) has been inspirational in this regard, not just pontificating over a pint but actually making films and showing them at a local experimental film club in Bristol.

Once you have a Product and a Feedback Loop, the aim is to find and hang on to the perpetual spiral of learning and improvement, to keep on trying, experimenting and innovating.

All the while, the feedback is critical, from your users, colleagues and peers. (Mark Boulton has written an excellent post here on the positive benefits of criticism.) Gathering criticism not only good practice, but a vital part of development process. As the mildly hackneyed aphorism goes, those who don't learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them.

Topic: Software Development

Jake Rayson

About Jake Rayson

A web designer since the 20th century, I am a pragmatic advocate of Free Software and I use proprietary software when appropriate. I made the full-time switch to Linux back in 2007, and my desktop tools of choice are Linux Mint, Inkscape, GIMP and Sublime Text.

As a Front End Developer, my core skills are HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery, and my working life reflects my commitment to open standards and accessible websites (ie accessible by everyone, regardless of browser, platform, ability or technology).

For web publishing platforms, I use WordPress for ease of use and Drupal for more complex solutions.

I am also learning about Ruby, Rails, Sinatra and CoffeeScript. I like the minimalist Ruby Way. To this end, my personal portfolio website is built with NestaCMS.

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4 comments
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  • Feedback Loop a Great Idea

    A feedback loop is an excelent idea for improving development. Check us out at www.heroicmultimedia.com. We'd love to get some feedback on our designs.
    kateheroicmultimedia
  • FeedbackGuru

    I recommend using FeedbackGuru.com to get EXPERT feedback on website design. This is one of the few sites where you get feedback directly from design experts and NOT from random users/members.

    Thank You!
    Mike
    FeedbackGuru.com
    Make Your Design Simple and Usable
    Mike Alles
  • RE: FeedbackGuru

    I second Mike's opinion- we have used FeedbackGuru.com for a lot of our prototypes and web designs- we always have received constructive and implementable feedback - highly recommend it.
    Color Kumar
  • Feedback Sites

    We provide website design services to various clients. As we interact with multiple clients at the same time, getting meaningful feedback is critical - we have tried using a lot of different feedback services and here i would recommend two of them: 1- to get clients feedback on the designs we create, we use NotableApp - the site is notableapp.com, we love the simple UI and interaction with clients. 2- to get the feedback on website design itself before showing it to clients, we use a service called FeedbackGuru - the site is FeedbackGuru.com - they provide expert feedback on site UI design and recommend changes, which we then pass on to our designers. There are other similar sites too, however, we recommend and use these two.
    eastCoastDesign