What we do with anonymous user comments on GOV.UK

Anonymous feedback from GOV.UK’s users has proven immensely useful since the site launched in 2012. This post describes how this feedback is captured and what makes it useful.

Problem reports

Most pages on GOV.UK prompt users to leave anonymous feedback, through the “Is there anything wrong with this page?” form (like the form at the bottom of the VAT rates page). The form captures what the user was doing, and what went wrong for them. This type of anonymous feedback provides both qualitative and quantitative data for the team.

Problem reports as qualitative data

The problem reports that users submit are highly contextual, unfiltered pieces of feedback which document the their frustrations from interacting with that particular content or service. While many reports may not be actionable directly, regularly going through the feedback often triggers insights in the same way that other methods of user research, and should be a regular activity for the product managers, user researchers and business analysts on the team.

Problem reports as quantitative data

When analysing problem reports in aggregate, the page’s contact rate (defined as the number of problem reports on a particular page, relative to the number of page views that that page receives) is the most useful metric. A high contact rate for a page is likely to point to a persistent issue with the content or policy that’s expressed on that page. For a team managing a large number of pages, contact rate can help identify the content areas which require the most urgent improvements.

Feedback on transactions

Some services direct users to leave feedback on a GOV.UK “done” page (like the “done” page for the Register to Vote service). Users are prompted to leave a rating of their experience (between “very dissatisfied” and “very satisfied”) and an optional comment.

The ratings are used to measure the service’s user satisfaction metric and the comments are useful in the same way as the problem report comments.