What would you do if someone told you that there was buried treasure in your own backyard? Would you ignore the information, figuring that you'd get around to uncovering it some day. Would you be indignant, unwilling to believe that a stranger could know more about your own yard than you do? I'd bet you'd start digging, probably with the help of the neighborhood too! You probably wouldn't rest until every square inch had been plowed, prodded and sifted through. The reason why? Because the payoff is monstrous. Well, that's exactly the way you need to start thinking about mistakes! Here's the idea: finding mistakes with your Web site is a good thing.
Mistakes are like buried treasure. Uncover them and you stand to gain a lot. Left undiscovered, they are a rich, but untapped, resource.
Sharon Burgos (my co-author on this column) recently contacted me with seemingly grim news: She found twelve grammatical errors in WebWord.com. Twelve! But guess what? Those typos and grammatical errors are really a gold mine. She provided me with the map, now all I have to do is go dig up the treasure. I get a chance to hunt down the errors and squash them before any other person sees them. Suddenly, my Web site takes a quantum leap ahead in content usability. Further, I am less likely to lose the respect of my readers. Fewer errors means more credibility and thereby increases user trust. By listening to her feedback and acting on it, I have, in effect, hit the jackpot!
Asking people for feedback is critical, whether we're
talking about a web site, a business plan, or a new product we're developing. Continuous
improvement is your goal and in order to reach it you've got to have user
feedback and the willingness to act on that information. Users will tell
you what doesn't work, but you've got to ask them first. In fact, I
wholeheartedly suggest that you ask them to destroy your
site. Then use that error data to improve it.
Remember, when someone tells you about a problem
they are just stating a fact. Your interpretation and your actions upon that
knowledge dictate the usefulness of the information.
Contact John S. Rhodes, the WebWord.com Editor and Webmaster
(c)1998 by John S. Rhodes. All rights
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