Sunday, February 16, 2014

Google Usability: A Time For User Feedback

A wise person once told me, "Be the change you want to see in usability."

Actually, no one said that, but the message is still quite true. The best way to ensure your needs are met as a user is to make them heard by submitting user feedback and by participating in UX surveys, studies, and research.

Google has opened up their arms giving users the warm embrace of a UX survey in hopes to collect more information about the experiences that their applications offer. I, for one, would like to take that survey, and so should you.

I've always been a fan of Google and their variety of amazing online applications like calendar, sites, docs, forms, chat, voicemail, and of course mail. I've always felt that not only did Google appreciate the tasks that I (as a user) try to accomplish in my day-to-day life, but they anticipate my needs, create an easy way for me to quickly adopt new tools, and somehow also make it fun and enjoyable.

To me, these are all incredibly valuable traits and priorities for UX designers to have, and I'm thrilled that they actually follow through with them. The end result is happy users, excited developers, passionate designers, and an amazing product.

Some people have a great hatred for taking surveys, and may not be as excited as I to submit feedback about exciting products. Regardless of any slight from traveling salesmen, or mall kiosk employees, user feedback is important for companies to have a straight connection to the target market of who loves, hates, uses, and avoids their products or services. It's the easiest way for us as the "the horse's mouth" to make an impact in a product or service that we've invested in.

I've acquired a taste for submitting feedback whenever possible, and have come to enjoy it more and more. Sites such as Yelp, Angie's List, Urban Spoon, Amazon, and yes, Google reviews, make it incredibly easy for users to submit their opinions and experiences. In turn, this has changed the way people shop for products, and has changed the way we validate real-world application of the things we buy. It's changed the importance of advertising to focus on actually making customers/users/people happy, and using their testimonials to spread the word.

In a world shifting towards cultivating positive user feedback instead of traditional advertising, taking the time to write a review to let that cafe owner know that you truly appreciate them offering $.25 off the price of coffee if you bring in your own mug, or making sure that no one else gets food poisoning from a Chinese restaurant that also specializes in Italian cuisine, your feedback as a user person makes a difference.

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