When testing a new product or site feature, feedback is key. The quickest – and least painful – way out of beta is to get your users in and to keep them engaged in the improvement process.
A service like UserVoice can be instrumental during this critical time. UserVoice centralizes your customer conversations in a single space. It’s part forum, part ticketing application, with some Digg-like voting features thrown in for good measure. UserVoice lets product users weigh in with honest criticism (or praise), suggest ideas and improvements, then vote on these suggestions. Each idea is an open thread discussion, where administrators can participate and update users on the status of improvements.
With all these thoughts flying, it may seem a bit confusing, but one of UserVoice’s selling points is it’s easy-to-use interface. Upon login, you’ll notice a project widget that identifies the most popular discussions and their status. If an administrator has elevated an idea to a project or improvement, it’s visible to the entire community. Ideas are well organized and searchable, so users can see if there idea has already been suggested, eliminating redundancy and letting the most important discussions rise to the top. Check out this mock UserVoice site (love the Office Space reference).
The best part? UserVoice is in free public beta.