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When reading Which "Like" symbol is best to use I suddenly realised that the UX community may be able to help me solve a little problem:

I'm working on a site which has just gone in to Beta and as part of the beta testing we're allowing the public to send feedback.

The site needed an obvious visual representation to encourage feedback from users. The usual method is the [+] icon. To me this just means 'expand' and doesn't necessarily suggest that the site is looking for feedback. Other options we explored were a pencil writing in a form - this just means edit so I didn't want to go with this. We considered a tick/cross icon and a speech bubble but ended up with a facebook-style "thumbs up"

Cusomter feedback example image

TLDR - My questions are:

1) What is the best symbol to encourage feedback and why?

2) Does a 'Like' style thumbs up icon either a) encourage positive feedback or b) discourage negative feedback as users will think it is a link to give "Liked" feedback only

EDIT:

The form behind the link is split in to several subsections:

Ease of use

  • 2 multiple (4) choice
  • 1 sentence answer "How easy to use is [the site]?"

Ease of understanding

  • 1 multiple choice
  • 1 text answer "How easy to use is [the site]?"

Usefulness for [performing the action of the site] (it's a journey planner)

  • 1 multiple choice
  • 1 text answer "Please comment on how useful you find [the site] for [the action]?"

Alternative services

  • 1 multiple choice

Further comments / improvements

  • 1 text answer "Please add any additional comments or improvement ideas below."
  • Do you require a response?
  • Name (text input)
  • Email (text input)
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Are you soliciting free-form feedback (sentences of text) or a short form with, say, a scale rating a few aspects of the page/site? (Doubtless, you'll get much more specific information from free-form text.) –  msanford Aug 24 '12 at 14:45
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Hi @msanford - Will edit the question to give more info on form –  TJH Aug 24 '12 at 14:51
    
+1 I had not thought before of a graphical representation/metaphor for feedback. –  AndroidHustle Aug 24 '12 at 14:57
    
Great edit; thanks for providing more information! –  msanford Aug 24 '12 at 15:11

5 Answers 5

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Customer Feedback Mockup

I would suggest using a megaphone icon, since it is

  • easily identified as a metaphor for "speaking out"
  • understood independent of age and cultural background of the intended audience
  • non-biasing towards positive or negative feedback.
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1  
Interesting idea - I hadnt thought of that one! –  TJH Aug 25 '12 at 20:54
    
Interesting Indeed! It might even act as a suble hint to the user to not shout to much. –  peterchen Aug 26 '12 at 14:04
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+1 - BUT...simply the icon! –  JeroenEijkhof Aug 28 '12 at 18:51
    
@JeroenEijkhof – +1, that was a 30-second-mockup thrown together in a hurry; the icon definitely needs to be simplified ;) –  vzwick Aug 28 '12 at 22:29
    
It's not bad. However, the megaphone is very common to suggest alerts. –  AndroidHustle Aug 30 '12 at 11:05

I would go for the megaphone as well, but in a slightly more discrete way, and accompagned with a small description:

Feedback Leave your feedback!

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You should upvote answers that you like (i.e, @vzwick's) , rather than re-posting them. –  msanford Aug 28 '12 at 21:00

I'm partial to the speech bubble. Seems to suggest that a user would be starting a conversation without indicating whether the feedback should be positive or negative. enter image description here

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I find the "conversation" aspect quite ambivalent in the context of user feedback collection: usually (with the exception of getsatisfaction.com and the likes), sending feedback doesn't necessarily initiate a conversation. depending on the means and goals of feedback collection, communication can be pretty much one-way. –  vzwick Aug 27 '12 at 16:16

EDIT: Modified suggestion with clipboard example (see comments):

Clipboard

I'll put my 2¢ in and say that I'm a fan of the "form-and-pencil" icon, since you do collect quite a bit of information (more than a simple "like" button).

Form and pencil icon

(Found: http://learn.senecac.on.ca/~asharma68/form.html )

(Found: http://www.athlete-inside-blog.com/2011/02/15/transitioning-to-outdoor-running/)

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What do you think about the 'Edit' connotations? –  TJH Aug 24 '12 at 15:20
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Good point @TJH: that could be mitigated by styling the form as a clipboard, which my gut tells me is recognizable as a metaphor for a survey, rather than 'edit this content'. –  msanford Aug 24 '12 at 15:22
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Excellent idea! –  TJH Aug 24 '12 at 15:23
    
Edited the answer to reflect comments @TJH. –  msanford Aug 24 '12 at 15:26
    
I would be curious to see if users can distinguish quickly edit icon from a clipboard. I think pencil is a strong edit metaphor so when users see anything with pencil they just think "edit" right away. Little clipboard details might be ignored. I am hypothesizing :) –  Anna Rouben Aug 26 '12 at 3:37

Pondering this I came up with a metaphor that would probably suit you well.

What it got me thinking of is the suggestion box used in offices, institutions and other societies to promote anonymous suggestions.

enter image description here

It does not suggest positive feedback, like a thumbs up could, but encourages users to speak freely and anonymously.

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I did find similar images but was unsure about their resemblance to ballot boxes (which, in effect, they are). I tried making a more simple symbol for the image above but it ended up looking like a post box if you don't have the word 'Feedback' written on it. If it wasn't for the UI/Design specifics this would certainly be the right choice to make –  TJH Aug 24 '12 at 15:08
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+1 I like this idea as it doesn't bias the feedback, (though when I see a suggestion box, I immediately take it as a parody: youtube.com/watch?v=0QmSrYEaVb0). –  msanford Aug 24 '12 at 15:10
    
@TJH I definitely see where you're coming from. If it wasn't for the "FEEDBACK" label I probably would have no idea of what I was looking at either... –  AndroidHustle Aug 25 '12 at 11:49
    
Simplify this to a usable icon and the I'm on board! –  JeroenEijkhof Aug 28 '12 at 18:50

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