Are there any benefits to a forum/Q&A website to find out feedback and features of a website?



  • I am in the process of designing and developing a website for my local community. I am using tools such as surveys and interviews, but wondered if there is a technique that would involve users posting in a forum or Q&A website?

    For example, I was thinking of setting up a forum for users to post ideas, respond to ideas posted, post requests etc and letting users respond.

    Something like "What features would you like to see on the ABC website?" and then let them reply in a forum post style.

    Does anyone think this technique is good or not?

    Any advice would be great, thanks!



  • This has been done by companies such as Starbucks to track popular feature fixes and increase community engagement and self help. A common term for such approach is "Co-Creation" or "Crowdsourcing".

    In the case of Starbucks, it was used to brainstorm new ideas and vote on them. One of which was the splash stick for coffee lids. you can read about it here and here, which also provides some tips to managing online communities.

    Submissions were tagged by customers into established categories. And, importantly, customers could vote on ideas. Internal to Starbucks, members of other units were invited to participate in reviewing the submissions. New ideas were evaluated based on feasibility, brand fit and user interest indicated by votes.

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    Also, many companies have subreddits which are monitored constantly to gather feedback and see how users are responding to products. A term for this is "Social Listening".

    Some things to consider: Online communities require heavy moderation and engagement to keep them going, which asks for a large time commitment. Additionally, there must be a large user base passionate enough to spend the time talking about your product (Starbucks has worldwide fan following).

    Now, all of this might be an overkill for a simple informational website. Asking users what they want will just result in a long list of items they saw on other websites, which they might never use once built. Your research should focus on uncovering the underlying reasons for such asks. Focus on the why and not the what.


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