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11 June 2008

You Can't Please All the People...

We've all heard:

You can't please all the people all the time. But you can please some of the people some of the time.
I was thinking about this in terms of our websites and future changes we choose to make. And it occurred to me that the following is also true:
You can't listen to everyones opinion all the time. But you better listen to someones opinion some of the time.
The truth is: People are always willing to give you their opinions. I hear stuff like this all the time:
  • I love what you guys do
  • I hate what you guys do
  • You really need to do this instead
  • If only you had have thought about this more
  • I would have done it this way
Because of this, filtering becomes a VERY important skill. You can't just write off what people say. You must sort through the opinions and find the stuff that matters - stuff that has value and can help you grow.

What to Look For (Opinions that Matter)
  1. What to do more of: Look for common themes in the stuff people like. If there are a lot of positive statements about the same thing it might help you justify keeping that component or offering on the website. You may also choose to put more time and money into it in the future.
  2. Constructive criticism/complaints: Criticism/complaints are often a waste of time. But keep a look out for the following: 1) Numerous complaints about the same thing. This might indicate that something really is broken. 2) Complaints from professionals in the field. But only when they offer solutions to the problem they have identified. Some professionals complain just because they think their way is better.
  3. New solutions: Once and a while you'll get recommendations for newer, more effective solutions than what you are using on your website. Look into these. Often new solutions cut down on maintenance, cost less and offer the user a better experience. Just make sure you aren't betting the farm on a solution that is still in Beta testing. You may wind up with all sorts of headaches as the product matures.
The larger the scope of your ministry, the more correspondence you'll wade through. But with these filters in place you'll actually find much of it useful as you make future web strategy decisions.