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Website improvement form

P: 12
I've been slowly developing a village website for Lenzie for around 18months with very few complaints/comments but some 300,000 hits a year.

I've got to a stage where I don't know whether the lack of any comments is:
  • An overwhelming endorsement of a perfect website
  • An overwhelming condemnation of a useless website
  • An overwhelming apathy on the part of the local community
  • An enormous number of disappointed people looking for a "Lenzie" who presumably is some pornstar or something.
  • A contact form that doesn't work (joke .... I do get spam)

I know certain pages get a huge number of hits (like our map), but I've no idea how or why people are using them and therefore I don't know if they need improving or just leaving alone.

The website statistics I have tell me tens of thousands of people are using the site each year, but only a couple hundred are finding it from search engines (as reported by the stats) and about the only useful information I have on what they are searching for is the village name (Lenzie) ... although there are about ten hits for one hairdresser.

So it appears about 90% of the users are coming to the site from a "black hole source" using the map and a few other pages and then going away and less than 0.1% have ever commented in the forum or directly to me using the contact page on the site and these were mostly about changed/adding links. It really is frustrating because I haven't a clue what people want from the site - indeed I've no idea whether it is a highly successful site or an abysmal failure!

So, I wanted to do a survey of the users. Searching the internet, the advice seems to be the best way to get a response is to have a pop-up appear when people leave the site ... but I thought web browsers block popups? Which would leave me wondering whether the lack of response was due to continued apathy or popup-blocking browsers!

So I thought maybe I could get some javascript to bring up a hidden pane on the page and ask "would you mind commenting on the site". I'd have to do this when people first arrive because I've no easy way to catch them when they leave and obviously I could set a cookie if they said "no" or "later". But, .... I really hate those kinds of pop-ups and if people are like me, I doubt I'd get a representative sample of users.

So, if anyone has had experience of such user-feedback questionaires/forms on non-commercial sites and knows what does/doesn't is/isn't acceptable then I'd appreciate some advice. The kinds of things I'm considering are:-
  • Popup when user leaves site (but no idea how to do it)
  • Popup/javascript pain when user first appears
  • A biggish text entry box in a bit of empty space marked "comments"
  • An entry on the menu marked "feedback" going to a question form with a few requests to "please give us feedback" littered around the site.
  • Or perhaps a technical solution to find out more by the way the user uses the site, such as some kind of cookie tracking to discover what pages and for how long the user uses them

PS. If software ain't available, I'll be able to write it myself using PHP/mysql.

This is the URL Lenzie village site
Oct 21 '08 #1
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15 Replies


numberwhun
Expert Mod 2.5K+
P: 3,503
Well, if you are getting spam from your contact form, then you probably need to implement something like a Captcha image system to where a physical person needs to be able to look at an image and type in what they see. This will certainly cut down on bots filling in you forms with crud.

Another thing to do is to make sure that with any form you use, you are doing some kind of form validation to ensure the data entered is valid. Granted, a comments box is free form and there is nothing to validate, but other fields can and should be validated if possible.

As for your pop up boxes, let me just say that those annoying things are the reasons I don't go to some sites. If I constantly get pop ups or if a site tries to keep me there with a pop up, then I simply do not go there again, no matter how good their content. But, maybe that's just me.

Forms are definitely a good way to gather user information and their thoughts, but implement them correctly or you will have problems you didn't expect.

Regards,

Jeff
Oct 21 '08 #2

Expert 100+
P: 397
I've been slowly developing a village website for Lenzie for around 18months with very few complaints/comments but some 300,000 hits a year.
Dunno. Anyone getting 300,000 hits a year on a site devoid of style has little to complain about, imo.
Oct 21 '08 #3

drhowarddrfine
Expert 5K+
P: 7,435
You could just put a little "note" on the front page that's clickable saying "Please take our site survey".
Oct 21 '08 #4

P: 12
Well, if you are getting spam from your contact form, then you probably need to implement something like a Captcha image system to where a physical person needs to be able to look at an image and type in what they see. This will certainly cut down on bots filling in you forms with crud.

....

As for your pop up boxes, let me just say that those annoying things are the reasons I don't go to some sites. If I constantly get pop ups or if a site tries to keep me there with a pop up, then I simply do not go there again, no matter how good their content. But, maybe that's just me.

Forms are definitely a good way to gather user information and their thoughts, but implement them correctly or you will have problems you didn't expect.

Regards,

Jeff
Jeff, for the once a week rubbish labelled "hasdhoifd" which is so obviously spam I don't even open it, it is hardly worth the few evenings I've spent creating a email validation system for the form. In some ways it is a bonus, because at least I know the form is still working if I continue to get spam!

On the form - it's really a catch 22 - how do I find out why locals are so apathetic and don't contact the website?

I may be wrong, but my instinct is that another form asking why they don't use the ordinary contact form is going to fall flat.

Maybe I have to make it so simple .... like three buttons with the question "what do you think of the site":
  • Good
  • Bad
  • I want to say more.
Oct 21 '08 #5

P: 12
Dunno. Anyone getting 300,000 hits a year on a site devoid of style has little to complain about, imo.
David,

I was wondering what you meant by "devoid of style" so I had a look at your own website "http://www.chelseacreekstudio.com/". It certainly does look a lot nicer than the "styleless" lenzie.org.uk. You also produce some very good domains looking through the list.

Unfortunately none of them would work as a "style" for our site, because the style must be as consistent as possible and many of the important pages are simply a container for an external "BLOB" like google maps. But, if you've got any good ideas for improvement I'd be more than happy to hear them. The constraints really are as follows:-

The page elements have to have the following:

1. A title bar ensuring that people know that it is the village website for Lenzie
(which is why it says:

Lenzie Village
Scotland)


2. A logo (the heather) which is an even quicker way of telling people they are on the website. This also acts as an "escape to home".

3. A menu

4. The calendar (probably the main reason for the website)

5. A container rectangle into which I try to fit whatever content is applicable to the page, in unfussed and easily understood format.

The site ought to be readable on anything between a mobile phone and 19"LCD. (This is an affluent suburb where electronic blackberries are maybe more common than real ones) So I don't use fixed size frames and I try not to have too many graphics to try to keep bandwidth down to allow use with a dial-up modem. And I don't create space that I have to fill ... because that creates work! So, e.g. there is no point having a three column format, when that means I then have an empty column on many pages which I then have to find a way to fill.
Oct 21 '08 #6

Expert 100+
P: 397
So, e.g. there is no point having a three column format, when that means I then have an empty column on many pages which I then have to find a way to fill.
Who said anything about about having a three column format?

What you have now could make a designer, a colorist, and a typographer cringe. Since your site is generating 300,000 hits a year in an affluent village, perhaps I need your advice regarding style. Not vice versa.
Oct 21 '08 #7

Markus
Expert 5K+
P: 6,050
People don't visit websites and comment on the appearance (unless they're Doc, of course); They visit the site for content.
Oct 21 '08 #8

Markus
Expert 5K+
P: 6,050
Something like a Guestbook would do well for a feedback area.
Oct 21 '08 #9

P: 12
People don't visit websites and comment on the appearance (unless they're Doc, of course); They visit the site for content.
I really want to know where to put my effort on the website. Do, I spend the next few months creating a directory, do I write a few more articles, do I try to create some more games, do I make colouring pages.

I also want to know if any labelling is confusing and there are bound to be spelling mistakes.

All in all I just want to encourage even force people to give some feedback to direct effort into the most beneficial improvement.
Oct 22 '08 #10

Expert 100+
P: 397
I really want to know where to put my effort on the website. Do, I spend the next few months creating a directory, do I write a few more articles, do I try to create some more games, do I make colouring pages.

I also want to know if any labelling is confusing and there are bound to be spelling mistakes.

All in all I just want to encourage even force people to give some feedback to direct effort into the most beneficial improvement.
Do you have a specific (X)HTML/CSS question you would like to ask?
Oct 22 '08 #11

P: 12
Do you have a specific (X)HTML/CSS question you would like to ask?
Do you have a specific (X)HTML/CSS answer to my question - or you one of those crazy people who try to use .PDF, .DOC to create a questionnaire on a website?
Oct 22 '08 #12

eWish
Expert 100+
P: 971
lenzie,

This is an HTML/CSS forum. Hence the reason why David asked if you have a HTML/CSS question. If you have more of a general question then please post it in the Miscellaneous Questions Forum. Also, please be polite and respectful in your posts/replies. Your last reply displays a bit of arrogance/sarcasm that is not well received here.

Kevin
Moderator
Oct 22 '08 #13

P: 12
lenzie,

This is an HTML/CSS forum. Hence the reason why David asked if you have a HTML/CSS question. If you have more of a general question then please post it in the Miscellaneous Questions Forum. Also, please be polite and respectful in your posts/replies. Your last reply displays a bit of arrogance/sarcasm that is not well received here.

Kevin
Moderator
Where exactly does it say on your forum that you can't ask questions about producing webpage components? But ... from the tone of the above replies I suspect my real crime is to suggest that website designers should do what customers want rather than just insult them and call them arrogant?
Oct 23 '08 #14

Markus
Expert 5K+
P: 6,050
Now, now, people.

Lenzie, you might narrow you question so it is more specific and directly related to HTML/CSS. At the moment, it's a bit vague.
Oct 23 '08 #15

Expert 100+
P: 397
Here is a site I bumped into the other day. . I am not affliated with it, nor did I have anything to do with it.

It is a community website-- well designed, with great information architecture, admirable color, fairly decent typography (if you don't freak out at primary content set as mousetype). And above all else, great content. Perhaps it will give you some ideas for your site?

We can help execute (HTML/CSS) concepts you begin, and help you carry them to logical conclusions. What you wish to include, and how you spell what you include, and a lot of other matters having nothing to do with HTML/CSS are yours to resolve.
Oct 23 '08 #16

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