The Blog of John Hewitt

Usability: Surfing for User Comments

One of the benefits of the web is that somewhere in the Internet, someone is talking about you, or at least a competitor. This makes it easy to get feedback. You won’t be able to get active comments on your developing interface, but you can read comments about existing products and competitors. Some sites, such as Amazon.com, aggregate user reviews right there with the product listings. In other cases you may need to look at forums, blogs, tweets, or anything else you can get your search engine to find.

Users will not only be commenting on your product, they’ll be pointing out the shortcomings of your competitors as well. Look for the following:

  • Feedback that discusses problems with your product or past products.
  • Feedback about your competition, especially about their weaknesses.
  • Discussion of unmet needs.
  • Descriptions of how people use your product or its competitors.

Don’t waste time getting upset by mean comments about your product. Look for concrete complaints that you can do something about. Your goal is to increase usability and customer satisfaction.