Why we launched a contrarian version of public voting boards

One of the first public voting board products was launched by UserVoice back in 2008.

UserVoice launched voting boards in 2008 to much fanfare

But here we are 13 years later, and voting boards are basically the same. They look nicer and have a few more features, but it doesn't seem like anybody's actually asked: what's the goal of a voting board?

So when we sat down to build our voting boards, we thought hard about what we wanted a voting board to do for us. We decided that voting boards should help collect unbiased customer feedback on important feature requests.

When building software, voting boards are a great tool to collect feedback directly from customers.

But we realized current products were failing in a one major way: they bias customers to give feedback that isn't necessarily true. And that was causing software teams to waste money and time by building the wrong features.

So we built Savio's voting boards to help you collect unbiased customer feedback on important feature requests.

Here's how Savio's new voting boards help you collect unbiased feedback to understand how your customers really feel, and how that differs from other boards.

Hide upvote counts

Herd behavior is well-studied and common human behavior:

Herd behavior is evident when people do what others are doing instead of using their own information or making independent decisions.

Existing voting boards are rife with herd behavior. For example, existing boards show the number of upvotes for every feature request. But the number of votes is completely unrelated to whether a given customer actually has the problem (or doesn't).

So why show them at all? Showing upvotes influences people to do what others are doing (bad) rather than using their own information to tell you what they actually need (good).

In general, it doesn't make sense to give your customers any information about what their peers are voting for. Especially since their votes will impact how you spend your developer budget!

It's pretty clear that if you want to collect less biased feedback, you're better off hiding upvotes.

So in the new Savio Voting Boards, you can hide upvotes to get a truer picture of what your customers want. Of course, if you want to show upvotes you can do that too - we're not animals! 🙀

Show feature requests in random order

Other voting boards encourage an even worse example of herd behavior: they show visitors a list of popular feature requests. When you show features from most popular to least, your most popular features get more popular by virtue of being at the top of the list.

It's basically impossible to collect unbiased feedback if you're ranking features by popularity.

With Savio, you can opt to display your feature requests randomly, in alphabetical order, or by number of upvotes (if that's really important to you).

Choose Features you want feedback on

Why is it that all feature requests on voting boards are public by default? Is it really helpful to you for customers to browse your list of hundreds of feature requests and upvote the ones that look interesting?

The number of upvotes may go up. But how confident are you that a low-commitment click is a strong indicator that your customer has the problem and you should invest expensive R&D time into solving it?

Is this model really the best way to get the unbiased, accurate feedback you need?

If you're serious about building what your customers actually need, probably not.

With Savio, your feature requests are private by default. You can choose which feature requests to collect feedback and votes on from your community.

Simply toggle a Feature Request to "is public" and it'll be available on your voting board:
Feature Request Voting Board features shouldn't be public by default

That way you'll be able to collect feedback on a shorter list of what actually matters to you. And customers can always add requests for features they care about, too.

When you combine this with hiding upvotes and random sorting of your request list, you've got a simple and powerful combination for collecting unbiased feedback.

Which means you'll make better decisions about what to build.

Feedback boards are included with all paid Savio plans. You can learn more about voting boards here.

Finally, if you want to see our voting boards in action, our board hides upvotes, displays features randomly, and we're collecting feedback on a dozen or so key features that are under consideration. You can visit the Savio voting board here.

Last Updated: 2021-03-23

Kareem Mayan

Kareem is a co-founder at Savio. He's been prioritizing customer feedback professionally since 2001. He likes tea and tea snacks, and dislikes refraining from eating lots of tea snacks.

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