And the survey says

Written by Adrian Holovaty on July 10, 2002

In tomorrow's Toronto Globe and Mail: On-line surveys help sites improve. The article makes this claim:

Having the best Web designers on the planet is no guarantee of getting it right the first time, or even the second. The only way to know for sure that you're hitting the mark is to ask customers.

In reading it, I was instantly reminded of Jakob Nielsen's column First Rule of Usability? Don't Listen to Users, in which he claims:

To design an easy-to-use interface, pay attention to what users do, not what they say. Self-reported claims are unreliable, as are user speculations about future behavior.

OK, so we have two very different opinions here. But I think they're both valid points.

I'm of the belief that users know a little something about their Web surfing habits, and therefore it can be useful to ask them what your site is doing wrong or right. But Jakob has a point -- sometimes users aren't the coldest beers in the fridge, and what they say isn't really helpful.

I'm curious as to how common these online surveys are in the Web news world. To what degree do sites use them? Are they helpful? My experience with them has been minimal.


Posted by Dan Knight on July 12, 2002, at 5:37 p.m.:

I ran a survey on two of my sites and heavily promoted it among Mac-related sites. 735 users gave their opinion about things that annoy them on the Web. No real surprises, but I think online publishers could avoid a lot of mistakes by learning what drives people away from their sites.

Posted by Adrian Holovaty on July 12, 2002, at 6:10 p.m.:

Thanks for posting that, Dan! Wow...that's a wealth of information. I especially get a kick out of people being annoyed by "Display of current date & time -- it's redundant". That's something we do at, and I've campaigned strongly against it. No progress yet. IMHO, if people want the current date and time, they can check their watch; and if a site absolutely *has* to print the date and time, it should designate whether that's the current date/time, or the date/time of that page's last update.

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