Being a web developer I use many websites on a daily basis, some for my social needs like Google Buzz, Twitter, Facebook and even Youtube and others for News, like Google Reader, NY Times and the local TV news. What do these sites have in common? Almost all of them have no way for a general user to comment on a feature, make suggestions or report a bug.

Why is this important you ask?
If you own a website, aren’t you busy writing articles, improving the tools on your site or even thinking of a new design or layout? Sure you are, I know I am. Doing these things are great for your website as they help your company grow in the direction that you want your company to grow, but what about how your users want or need your company to grow for them? How can you connect to your users? How can your users connect with you? How can your users help you out when you make a mistake, there will always be a mistake, no one is perfect.

Some people may say that this is what Facebook, Twitter or Buzz is used for, and to some extent they are right, but do you read every comment, every post on those services? Probably not.

How to let your users communicate with you:
There are many ways that you can get real and honest feedback from your users about your website. Below you will find a few useful tools/methods that I would recommend:

  1. Twitter with Hash tags – On your “Contact Us” section of your website add a statement or two to recommend your user to send you a twitter post using some basic has tags.
    • #Bug – Used when your users needs to share a bug on your website
    • #Suggestion – Used when your users wants suggest a new feature, an article or anything else
    • #Help – If your user needs help about something related to your website
    • #Spam – If you allow comments on your website, this will let users help if they spot a spam comment on your website
    • #Critique – If you have a user who wants to vent about your site or just let you know how they feel about a certain feature or article this is the easiest way for them to do so, 140 characters at a time
  2. Create a forum on your site which can be found easily such as forum.yourwebsite.com or yourwebsite.com/forum
    • Create 6 categories:
      1. Suggestions
      2. Help
      3. Critique
      4. Bug Report
      5. Spam
      6. Other
  3. Encourage your users to use Google Side Wiki
  4. Create a comboniation of support methods like TweetDeck – http://support.tweetdeck.com/home

The Goal:
Your users are a great source of inspiration, guidence and they help keep both you and your company honest. Reach out to them and give them the services they want and they will reach out and bring more users to your site.