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What is the best way of collecting feedback from a mobile app user? Application in this context is not a utility app and is expected to be used by user at his convenient time.

  • Free text input box: Give a text-field to the user (like used in writing text message) so that he can enter what he wants to.

Pros: User can enter whatever he wants to.

Cons: It is inconvenient to type too many characters on handheld device.

  • Survey: By asking user to give response to survey questions

Pros: You can collect the exact information you want to, less typing involved if questions are objective

Cons: Too many questions could be inconvenient for the user too.

Feedback could be required for multiple reasons

  • Taking user's feedback as to how to improve the app
  • Giving the user an option to complain about the app
  • Engaging the user
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What do you want this feedback for? Remember that people don't like to fill in forms even when they get something out of it themselves. Are you not able to build analytics into the application to get usage figures that way? (Or Google Analytics if it's a web app?) Analytics is far more accurate that user entered feedback - how do you know what the user has written is actually the truth? –  JonW Jan 15 '13 at 11:40
    
@JonW <<how do you know what the user has written is actually the truth?>> Valid Question. So, do you feel that user feedback need not be taken explicitly? –  ripu1581 Jan 15 '13 at 11:43
    
@JonW I came across this blog blog.neemware.com/2011/09/24/… and I think i agree with points. Usage statistics may give some insights, but where else would user complain about the app? –  ripu1581 Jan 15 '13 at 11:51
    
I think you'd get actual results from analytics. The fact that a survey / form has free entry means you have not way of knowing the data you get is accurate. People may just say "it's good" because it's quick to type, but the analytics shows that people only look at the front-screen and then bail out. Also, people only tend to leave feedback when they have strong opinions one way or the other. Analytics would track all users, including the contented, dissapointed or ultra-happy ones. –  JonW Jan 15 '13 at 11:52
    
Oh I'm not saying you shouldn't try to get feedback, just that you should be aware of the limitations. (Hence why I only commented and didn't leave an actual answer yet). My main question to you is: "What do you want the feedback for". That'll help determine how you go about getting it. –  JonW Jan 15 '13 at 11:54

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You have different options, depending on what your goals are and how in-depth the feedback is that you want to get.

Analytics will tell you what they have done, but they won't tell you why they have done it, and being able to understand why an action was (or was not) taken is often what will give you the insight necessary to address the actual issue. Implementing analytics in your application might or might not be easy, depending on many factors.

User testing will give you feedback without having to worry about users not wanting to type in a question. Depending on the feedback that you need and your userbase, a user test can be as simple as hanging out in a coffee shop with gift cards and gathering feedback (quick and dirty, cheap) to actually recruiting users and talking to them as they do something with your mobile app (a more standard usability study, but takes more time and you should compensate your users for their time giving you their feedback).

A survey can give you some feedback. A survey should be easy to respond to. The easier that it is for your users to respond to your survey, the higher your response rate is. Part of that is the length of the survey (number of questions), part of that is the type of response you expect (choosing one answer from a list of five is faster than typing). To help increase your response rate, you can provide some kind of incentive for completing it. The longer your survey is, the better the incentive should be; for a short survey, a simple entry into a drawing for a $50 gift card will help you get a better response rate. There's the overhead of getting responses from a representative group of users, and the time necessary to analyze the data (which is obviously dependent on how many questions you ask), so this can be somewhat quick and somewhat cheap, but isn't necessarily either of those. If you don't have experience in running a survey, your survey should be very short and you should do a little bit of reading up on survey best practices. The University of Wisconsin at Madison has some survey best practices for their service. (I'm not affiliated with them, I just think that this is a pretty good list of best practices.)

Each of these options has their strengths and weaknesses. You'll have to choose which one best meets your needs and can address the questions that you have in the time that you have available.

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+1 for the detailed answer. Liked the incentive approach. I Was thinking on the lines of putting up a contest with some prizes and goodies. Thanks. –  ripu1581 Jan 17 '13 at 5:44
    
+1 for the difference of analytics and surveys –  FrankL Jan 17 '13 at 8:17

Good explanation by Nadyne on usefulness of different data gathering methods. And I agree with Serg's "Ask only 1 question" for mobile apps. The one question format works will when comes to mobile apps.

Though feedback and ratings provide an important role in the success of mobile apps, many app developers do just collect feedback in a passive way. i.e. They have a feedback link hidden somewhere in the About screen. In this mode you will get low # of responses. But these feedback are important. Because a mobile user, who spends very less time on a mobile app, has taken time to find the feedback link and give you a feedback.

The 1 question format is 'developer initiated feedback'. The developer respects the opinion of the user and wants to involve him in the process of app development. If used properly, single questions, will get higher response rate. Some general guidelines for using single questions inside the app:

  1. Make it contextual - If you want to know specific thing about a specific screen or about a specific user action then coin the question specific to that situation.
  2. Ask the right questions to the right users - A feedback from a new user has a different different value than the feedback from a regular user. You can segment and ask different questions. Or once you get the answers back, try to understand the type of users and the answers they gave.
  3. Don't spam the users with questions - Just because you see higher response rates to your questions, it doesn't mean that you have to bombard users with questions. If you ask the right questions you should be able to make the right decisions based on the answers you get.
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You can try the following solution:

  1. Ask only 1 question.
  2. Provide list with possible answers. The last answer is 'Other'.
  3. Provide text box for comment.

First, in most cases people have no problems to answer 1 question. Second, providing possible answer helps people to answer and helps you to analyze answers. Third, most active people has ability to drop you message even if they select answer from list. Fourth, you can change this question from time to time or from start to start, so you obtain survey and people obtain ability to communicate to you. Changing questions can implement some gamification with stimulating user to answer.

Of course it should be an option not to answer.

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Personally, I know I almost never will bother with a free response question on a survey on a mobile device because it is a pain to enter the text. It's probably a good idea to include an "other" option for someone who feels really strongly on a question and doesn't feel the provided answers fit, but providing common answers or asking things in relation to a ranking can be far more easy for a user to fill out. Millage may very, but I know personally I would rather fill out 10 survey questions on a single page than answer one free response when I'm on a mobile device.

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