I was talking with a Turkish startup friend of mine, giving him advice on his new site and proofreading his English writing. He hasn’t yet launched his service, and I offered to put it through userinput.io so that he could get feedback on the site and know how to improve it.
He said “well, let’s wait until I launch the site, then I will get feedback.”
And I said “No no no no no, let’s do it before.”
I’ll explain why I was so adamant.
When you finally launch your site, whether it’s a startup or an e-commerce or a portfolio site, you want it to be awesome, of course. And not just “awesome” but it needs to explain your offering clearly, create trust in the visitor, and not have confusing UX/UI and flow.
And the best time to get feedback on your website is not when you’ve launched it and you’re trying to make money or convert people to take action on the site, but before you launch.
If you’re going for a launch with a big splash, it’s important to have trust issues worked out on the site before you drive traffic.
You’re really too connected to your own creation to see its faults as others would, so that’s one major reason why getting feedback on your website is so important (unbiased is the best kind). You trust yourself, so of course your site looks trustworthy to you.
But visitors may find issues with your site to keep them from trusting it. Maybe your branding looks amateurish to them, and it’s a turnoff. Maybe lack of security credentials on the site hurts. Maybe typos and layout keeps them from trusting it. Maybe it’s a lack of testimonials.
And it could very well turnout that it’s nothing you would have ever thought of that is hurting trust with visitors, and that’s why you should get others to review your site.
You want sales and conversions the day you launch? Having a trustworthy site from the start is key.
You and your team, you guys understand your site completely because you built it. You spent days or weeks or months going over the pages, determining layout, what goes where. You know that in order to do this action you take these steps, and the button you need is down there under that bit of copy and it’s blue.
But visitors have no idea what logic and flowcharts your site is built on. They’re new here, brand new, and they need to be able to find their way around quickly and intuitively, without hand holding or a road map.
They don’t understand your site like you do. Your copy may be misleading (not deceitful, it just doesn’t convey what you think it does to everyone). Maybe your package descriptions don’t make sense to someone with a different technical background. Maybe they don’t even see how to actually order, because your CTA buttons aren’t button-like enough.
It happens. But you need to correct it. The best way to do that is by getting feedback on your website before launch – not after.
Squeeze pages are popular for courses and sales, and the other day we ran a squeeze page for a 30-day social media challenge through userinput.io and found out what else people still wanted to know. And it’s powerful.
Some of the copy on the squeeze page was vague with a phrase like “and so much more” in the list of features, but reviewers wanted to know in detail what else was in the “so much more.”
You can learn what questions they have about your offering that you don’t address in your site copy, and then add answers to those questions. Because people probably won’t ask you their questions, they’ll just leave your site and you’ll never see them again.
So tell them everything they want to know, but you have to figure out what they want to know in order to be able to do that.
That squeeze page I was just talking about? Among other things, we found out that they wanted to see more concrete statistics, and use cases.
They wanted proof that it could work for them.
This is more about Customer Discovery than website feedback, but if you can include in your survey questions asking what’s hardest about the problem you’re solving, or what fears people have, you can capitalize on that knowledge within your copy.
What do I mean?
Well, I worked before on a startup that helped people improve their online dating profiles by getting feedback on them. And in order to help improve conversion, I asked guys who had trouble with online dating what their biggest concerns and fears were, and the #1 concern was basically wasting time with online dating because they didn’t get results from it.
So I capitalized on that within my copy by saying “Stop wasting your time with an online dating profile that doesn’t work for you. Learn how to change it today.”
Turning their own words around on them is very powerful.
That’s just an example, and you can also learn what fears you can address in your copy to improve conversion. And of course the best time to do that is before traffic actually hits your site. Again, this type of feedback is invaluable.
Get people to look over your site and find out what would push them towards purchasing your service or signing up for your ebook or whatever.
Maybe there’s a feature they want that you’re not offering (or maybe they don’t think you offer it, but you do, and it’s just too easy to overlook on the site).
Maybe testimonials would help, or case studies, or clearer pricing, or lower pricing, or a SSL certificate, or a clearer benefit to using it, or something totally unique to your situation that you could never anticipate.
But you won’t know unless you get feedback.
Personally, I am not a developer. Sad but true. I can do front end work all day, but when it comes to actual coding, I don’t have the skills.
But even if you don’t have to hire out programming because you have the skill set, or you have coders on staff, you can save time and money by getting feedback on your website before you launch and before you actually build out the service too.
By having reviewers look over your website, you can find issues with your checkout process or your layout or your service, and it’s always cheaper to figure these things out before you start doing back-end coding.
Even if your developer is cheap, having her go back and make modifications to the site after launch adds up quickly.
You’ve got one shot for a first launch, so don’t waste it by having a site with conversion issues. Polishing your site before it’s on Product Hunt or Betalist will help you achieve your goals no matter what they are.
The traffic spike you can get from a well-worked Product Hunt launch can be huge, with thousands of people coming to check out your site.
Improving your conversion rate by even one percent by getting useful feedback could make a big difference in the early life of your site. Don’t blow it.
The same goes for your mailing list launch. Building a mailing list before you actually launch your service is crucial, and it’s another one-shot deal that you can’t afford to waste.
Before you show your hungry waiting list your site, make sure it makes sense to an average visitor. Remember, reviewers can find technical bugs in your site as well as trust issues.
If you have an onboarding process, you could have reviewers go through it as well, looking for ways to improve it, because user activation is as crucial as getting them to sign up in the first place.
So, how do you get people to give you feedback on your site before it’s live?
Obviously, you’ve got to actually put the site online.
Uploading your site at dev.whatever.com works (make sure that you tell Google NOT to index this, for obvious reasons as well as for SEO reasons later on) or using a secret directory like whatever.com/beta works just as well.
Then you have several options to simply have people look at and provide feedback on your website:
However you end up getting feedback, don’t take the criticisms personally, and learn from them.
And remember that you might want to get more feedback after you make revisions based on the first round of feedback. Websites are never finished and you should continually optimize them.
And that process needs to start before you launch.
Stuart Brent is the founder of userinput.io, a service that provides on-demand feedback for websites and business ideas. He’s a dork and actually really into feedback, and happy to help you form the best questions for your own surveys.