Tools For Running Your User Feedback Session Online
September 24, 2021
As product managers, we’re often called upon to run group sessions where we’re looking to gather feedback from our audience, whether that’s speaking to our support team about the challenges they’re facing, or standing in front of a group of customers who’ve been handpicked because they’re our power users.
Whatever the reason, we’ll need a range of tools at our disposal to run the session, record feedback, or facilitate discussions.
Here’s a run down on some of the most popular.
Running your session
There’s not much I need to say about the different systems there are to hold a virtual user session on, after the world has been working remotely for the past few years!
If they’re internal then just use the service everyone in the business uses. if they external, then make sure it’s a service that doesn’t need any extra software installing for your users to use it.
There are a variety of reasons and points in a user session that might require you to gather information from your attendees.
It could be at the start of the session where you seek to find out what their goals are for the session, or it could be you want them to vote on which is their preferred design options from those you’ve presented.
In any case, you need it simple for them to give the information, as well as easy for you to assess the results.
Google Forms — Free, with a variety of question types and the ability to gather results directly into a Google Sheet.
Typeform — From a free plan to paid tiered, Typeform provides a better user experience for both those setting up the form and those completing it.
Survey Monkey — self proclaimed ‘world’s number one’, from free to paid plans with a range of features, it offers some really great features.
Survey Sparrow — Interesting named alternative to the big boys but with all the basics you’d expect on the free tier.
Slido — I’ve used this when attending a few events, and works really nicely at giving real-time feedback on screen as users input responses to questions via their own devices using a simple meeting code. The basic package is free, with up to 3 polls in an event for up to 100 people.
Others include PollEverywhere, Mentimeter, and most of the survey providers.
I’m old enough to remember when I used to have to email documents around all the time. Giant presentations that download slowly from Outlook. But no more. Now you can simply provide links to your users and they can access documents directly from a shared location.
Post any session materials where your audience can access them, either beforehand so that they can familiarize themselves, or after the session so they can give themselves a recap.
Google Docs — Free as part of your Google account, with auto-save and great compatibility with other document formats, it’s one of the most straightforward options.
Dropbox — The original file sharing service, which has been taken over somewhat by the fact that ‘everyone’ has a Google account with Google Docs for free, but it still offers a more ‘professional’ appearing option.
OneDrive — Microsoft’s version, integrates with your Microsoft account, but I’ve always struggled with the usability and reliability of it (although if you’re using a Microsoft device that’s connected it can be as easy as managing your files on your computer).
Others include Amazon Drive, Sync, and pCloud.
YouTube — Everyone knows YouTube, so it’s a little pointless including the list, but you don’t have to publish your videos to the world and can make them invite only, which is worth knowing.
Vimeo — The YouTube alternative, with the same range of features.
Others include DTube, Vevo, and DailyMotion.
“In the olden days”, we’d grab a range of coloured post-it notes, some drywipe markers, and a whiteboard, and gather together staring towards the wall, but these days, you can get the same output from the comfort of your own desk.
Perfect for brainstorming ideas, or running through flows, it’s where people can be creative, so you don’t want the technology to get in the way of the ideas flowing.
FigJam — From the makers of the design software Figma is their whiteboarding tool FigJam, and it’s pretty neat. Intuitive interface and importantly it doesn’t lag too much with a few users.
Miro — This used to be called Real Time Board, but they changed to something a little more catchy, and you get all the basics and a few templates to work from if you don’t like the idea of a blank sheet of paper.
Stormboard — Less general whiteboard and more brainstorming software that allows you to post notes, group them, and vote.
Others include InVision Freehand, Conceptboard, and Explain Everything
What’s the point of all this work if you don’t actually record all the information you’re gathering!
You need to know what was said, why it was said, and by whom, and be able to refer back to it at a later date when you’re pulling it all together or reviewing.
This requires good note taking, probably from inputs from a variety of sources, and it needs a good system of organisation so that that the information can be found again in the future.
With digital notes you have the ability to have information always available at your finger tips, whereas previously it would be buried in notebooks within a drawer in your office.
Evernote — My note taking app of choice, but probably because I’ve been using it for so long it feels like a chore to move elsewhere at this stage. Group your notes into Notebooks (by product, by feature, by user group), record audio directly into notes, or scan in documents. Easy to use.
OneNote — The Microsoft version of Evernote, which I’ve never really got on with. With many of the Microsoft services it just wants to get too clever, and too integrated with the other services, and that makes it a pain. But others love it!
Google Drive — It’s so easy to throw in a new Google Doc and save things, but it doesn’t have the tools that the dedicated tools have. But at least it’s free!