The original incarnation of this app was written circa 2015 in CoffeeScript and AngularJS 1.4. The new version is in React and Semantic UI. There are also a few simple charts to visualize blog post and tag popularity that were coded using the Victory charting library.
I rewrote the app as an excuse to use React on a personal project and to make the site easier to build and maintain going forward. But the original version was running smoothly with something like 2-3k users per month. I didn’t want to upset the regular users by fixing what wasn’t broken.
So I built out the updated site to what I thought was a reduced but perhaps satisfactory level of functionality. I hosted the new app at a different url, and added a callout to the old site asking users to try it out.
While the new app was in-progress, I invited the early adopters to leave comments and criticism. Google Forms made soliciting and collecting user feedback dead simple (alternatives: SurveyMonkey or Typeform). The feedback survey was to the point. It only had four questions:
- Do you like the redesign?
- Do you miss the [missing feature]?
- Were there any errors or bugs with the redesign? (If so, please provide your browser / operating system)
- Any other feedback about the redesign or the app in general?
Over the course of a couple weeks the survey received 19 responses. This was enough to help me massively improve the first cut. The answers to those four questions gave me a lot of insight:
- The performance improvements I’d added had come at the cost of my API access often being rate-limited
- There was a critical display bug in a browser I hadn’t tested
- Other small bugs were highlighted
- Users had become very accustomed to what I thought were unimportant design details of the original version
- A feature I thought was useless was meaningful to a large percentage of users
- Strangers on the internet are willing to fill out a survey
- You can’t please everybody
I’m thankful to the handful of power users who took time out of their lives to provide valuable feedback for the app. Without that survey I may have shipped a shoddy update and degraded my users’ experience.