ConceptFeedback.com, an interactive community for web developers and designers, provides a free and simple tool for getting third-party reviews on design concepts. Concepts may be posted publicly or privately and can include websites, logos, advertisements, videos, and more. Once a concept has been posted, feedback is automatically collected and archived for the user to help improve the concept and get better post-launch results. In addition to a distinctive professional network, registered users have the capability to post concepts privately, for secure review by clients, co-workers, and friends.
ConceptFeedback.com, the four Steps
The idea for Concept Feedback popped in to my head last January. At my day job, I’m a marketing director for a small company just west of Chicago. Whenever I would finish a design-related concept at work (a new website or advertising campaign), my boss and I would end up emailing it out to friends, relatives and co-workers for feedback. This process would repeat itself each time we had something new, and the feedback turned out to be rather limited and ineffective. We had just finished a new ad campaign and I started to think “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if there were a place where I could exchange feedback with other marketers and designers?”. Over the next 3 months, Concept Feedback evolved from a simple idea in to a robust, active feedback community. Here are the 4 steps I took make it happen; steps I believe are universal for anyone starting anything:
1. Research and “test the waters”
As soon as I had a concrete idea in my mind, I started to do some basic research on the internet. Were there other feedback sites out there? Was there interest in getting feedback on designs? I spent a few days examining websites and further solidifying my vision for the site, how it would work and who the target market was going to be. I developed a short presentation using Google Docs and presented it to DevBridge, a web development firm in the area. Once we came to an agreement, we posted a simple “promo” page with a signup form online and started inviting potential users to check it out. For minimal investment, we were able to quickly determine if Concept Feedback was a valid business idea, or just a pipe dream. It turned out people really were interested, which led us to the next step.
2. Develop and launch quickly
Once we were relatively confident that Concept Feedback would succeed, we started developing the site full steam ahead. We wrote a detailed spec, including all of the features that would be available on the site. Once the spec was complete, our designer created a mock-up. Several revisions later, we a had a final concept and the coding began. A month or so after starting the development process, Concept Feedback was live. Despite a number of remaining questions we had about the site and how it was going to work, we decided to launch as soon as possible and let our users determine the rest. Once it was out there, we began to get a much better picture of our “customer” and what they want. For those nerds out there who are interested, Concept Feedback runs on Microsoft .NET framework with heavy focus on AJAX using jQuery framework. We are using a custom data access layer and implement object relational mapping technique. Data is stored in a Microsoft SQL Server 2008.
By launching quickly and observing user interactions, we were able to embrace a rapid development mantra (for more on rapid development, check out this blog post), making the additions and improvements that our users dictated, not the features we initially thought were important. This is a key distinction, and something I feel has made us successful in the early stages. We have already added and improved a number of features, replaced the entire framework and updated our marketing approach, all based on the feedback and activity on the site. The beginnings are a delicate and critical time for any website or startup, that’s why it is so important to be able to adapt to your users. Those who don’t adapt, die.
4. Generate growth
Unfortunately, the popular, and oft misquoted phrase from Field of Dreams, “build it, and they will come”, doesn’t hold true online. Developing a large and active community takes a lot of time and effort – I’ve spent countless hours promoting the site to achieve a critical mass of users. Success doesn’t come overnight, and despite larger than life examples like Facebook and Twitter, everyone starts at zero. However, the good news is, with some hard work and determination, growth will come, along with the rewarding feelings that comes with it.
For all of you out there looking to start something new or revive something old, I hope these tips help. If you have development tips or stories of your own, I’d love to hear them!
To learn more Concept Feedback, or to register free online, visit www.ConceptFeedback.com. For questions and comments, please contact Andrew Follett at andrew[at]conceptfeedback[dot]com.