How to create a self-healing website

What is a self-healing website?

I mean a website,  sorry a digital engagement platform, that generates its own information/data/feedback that allows improvements to kept being made. It might not be possible to automate everything but the principles are as follows:

User feedback

We have added a short feedback form to each report landing page and flat web page. This means that we can find out if the content was useful or not – at the moment 75% of people think that it is. It also allows users to categorise themselves into some standard user groups which is handy to check that we are getting the ‘right’ type of visitors.

We are going to add something similar on the publications filter to check that users found what they wanted – yes/no – and if not what were they looking for. This might show up if they were on the wrong site, looking for the wrong title etc.

A similar form will go on the 404 page so we can check what went wrong if a page was not found.

What would be great if we could a similar box to the on site search box (Google custom search) to ask if users found what they wanted?

Automatic feedback

Of course the ‘page not found’ is feedback and we have been doing a lot of work fixing broken links.

I have been looking at Clicktale and it is very powerful particularly where there are clickable events such as a filter or contact form to see where users drop out and do not complete tasks. As it also records mouse clicks and cursor movements we can see how and where content is being read. It might lead to shorter text on landing pages for example.

Sitemorse and similar tools also help pick up broken links onsite and to others sites which we then need to fix.

The Digital Accessibility Forum also have a neat tool that allows users to report issues with Accessibility on a website which can help pick up issues to be fixed.

What’s next?

As we think about this further there are no doubt other touch points where we can easily collect data and feed it back into the improvement cycle. A short form which is completely viewable on the same page really works best.

A next step might be to set up an internal Feedback forum, look at all these metrics once a month, and start to make improvements which of course we should feedback to our users.

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