What Feedback Do You Want? Decide Before You Ask

Last Update: November 13, 2012

In the last few days in WA I have come across the issue of 'feedback' and it is something that means different things to different people, so I thought I would address it here. Members frequently ask for 'feedback' for their websites, post, pages, blogs, videos, articles ...

Listed below are some of the issues that have been raised about feedback recently
  • Some people are frustrated that they’re not getting the type of feedback they need
  • Some are not getting the type of feedback they want
  • Some are shocked if the feedback isn’t universally positive,
  • Some are irritated by feedback that is very positive but not necessarily helpful
  • Some are confused by contrasting or conflicting feedback.
  • Some are too afraid to ask for feedback for fear of ridicule
  • Some don’t ask for feedback because they don’t feel they need it

Perhaps you have other examples that you could add to the list. But before I go any further – I need to clarify what feedback means.

What is feedback?

“Information about reactions to a product, a person's performance of a task, etc., used as a basis for improvement.”

So there it is – feedback should be used as a basis for improvement. Remember that because it’s important both for the people who receive it and those who are happy to give it. It’s a learning process.

However, feedback can be contentious so here are some points that you might want to consider

Tips for the people asking for feedback

Time to feedback

Remember that every member only has a certain amount of time to give to other people. If you ask people to look at your whole website, and you already have quite a few pages or posts – people will skim your site and pick up the things that matter to them. You can’t expect them to look thoroughly at every page and that will be reflected in the feedback that you receive.

Be specific

Try and be specific rather than generalist. It’s much easier for people to give you feedback
  • ‘Please look at this 3 minute video and tell me anything that can be improved ‘
  • ‘Please look at my website and comment on the colour and layout’
  • ‘What’s your opinion on the slider on my homepage’
  • “Do you think my latest blog effectively promotes my product ....”
  • “ Can you tell me 2 areas of my website that I could improve on and why...!
If you ask very general questions you may not get the specific help you need.

Avoid being lazy

Ask for feedback but don’t keep asking because you can’t be bothered to read or apply advice you might already have been given.

Internet marketing is not an exact science

It’s inevitable that people will sometimes give different views. That doesn’t necessarily mean one view is right and the other is wrong. It comes from people having different experiences and preferences and breadth of knowledge. Don’t get irritated. It happens.

Positive feedback only?

If you’re uncomfortable with any type of negative feedback or feedback which suggests there are areas for improvement, make sure that you ask for the type of feedback you want.

Tips for the people giving feedback

Use an appropriate level of language

Telling something that their work is ‘awesome’ or ‘brilliant’ – when it is merely satisfactory is unhelpful. Of course you want to keep people’s enthusiasm alive but there’s a huge difference between ‘outstanding’ and ‘very good and by using inappropriate levels of language you give someone the wrong impression.

Be clear about what the feedback applies to

If someone has asked you to look at their whole website and you only looked at the front page say so. Otherwise you may give the impression that there’s no room for improvement on other pages.

Be sincere

Don’t say that you think something is good if you don’t really believe that. It’s not fair. Don’t say a page is great if you see it’s full or typos. If you’re worried about hurting someone’s feeling by saying something that’s ‘negative’ don’t comment.

Choose your words with care

It's incredibly easy to use the 'wrong' words when giving feedback particularly when people can't get further cues from being able to hear or see you. It's inevitable with a diverse community like WA with different cultures and languages that we will sometimes we will get it wrong or be misunderstood. Remain sensitive to this happening.

Be honest about the scope of your feedback

Always be clear about the scope of your feedback – is it just your opinion, gut instinct, experience you’ve had, knowledge you’ve gained.

Use the sandwich technique

As an ex manager in education I had to give a lot of feedback and we were taught to use the sandwich method – something positive – areas for improvement – something positive. It's a good technique if you're giving some lengthy feedback in a pm.


Giving feedback isn’t always easy, especially in a diverse community such as WA where there is a wealth of different experience, tastes, opinions, languages and communication styles . With the best will in the world you won't necessarily get the feedback you want but if you need some be specific about what you need and be open to the response you get.

Join the Discussion
Write something…
Recent messages
Shawn Martin Premium
Very good Beverley, and very much needed. I agree and I will put this into action when I am asked to take a look.
BIS Premium
Thanks Shawn. Glad you found it helpful
splashduck Premium
Hi Beverley, Thanks for this. I like that sandwich technique, keeps things on the positives while being realistic in that there's always room for a little improvement.

I have to admit I'm a bit reluctant to ask for feedback. If I get brave I'll try like you said and be specific about the feedback I'd like, narrowing it down to one thing only. Good points you've made. Thanks.

BIS Premium
Hi Rob
I'm notoriously bad at the sandwich technique. I had to pinch myself when I worked in education to remember to use it!

Asking for feedback can be overwhelming and I don't blame you for feeling some reluctance, but you have done it even if you didn't think of it as 'feedback'. Remember your video - which was lovely showing your home area and the festival? Several of us looked and commented.

Narrow it down as you said and give it a go.

@RICH. Premium
Hey Diva B.

Perfect. Naturally. ;)

I've bookmarked for distribution. I'm now only going to critique a site if the requester has read this and signs a note promising to lick their own wounds. :P

I'm 100% in agreement that criticism should be honest, constructive and prefaced as to whether it's fact or opinion. I just wish that people would ask by blogging or sending a PM rather than in chat. I find that rapid fire questions and answers makes it difficult to give a considered response.

Rich. x
BIS Premium
Thanks Rich

I agree - Live Chat is not really a suitable forum for feedback - but I guess it's a sure fire way of getting some rapid feedback. However, I'm not sure that people always appreciate the limitations!

phaeton Premium
Beverly; great article! I did not realize that there was such great meaning to one word, especially one that is comprised mainly of the first 6 letters of the alphabet. Great layout and I love the graphics. Peter
BIS Premium
Thank you Peter. Glad you enjoyed it.
yessharon Premium
Great post Beverly. With the inspiring words that you always write and the visuals that you create I am able to analyze how I do things and improve my performance. Not only online but offline. You are one of the world's best teachers and I feel priviledged to read your words.
BIS Premium
Hi Sharon
Thank you ever so much that's really kind of you to say so. Would you mind if I used your comment on a new website I'm developing for 'writing' and link it back to your profile here?
yessharon Premium
I would be happy to let you use my words. You are the best.
BIS Premium
Thank you I'm really grateful for that. I will send you the link when I've used it - which will probably be next week. Thanks a lot.