Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sitemeter does bad, then good with site redesign

Sunday morning I woke up to discover that I couldn't log-in to my SiteMeter account. The site wouldn't accept my password, and said it had no record of my username, email address, or password. I also noticed that the 'look' of the site was different.

Something was definitely up. So I decided to go to Twitter and see if anyone else was having a problem logging in. I went to Twitter search and put in 'SiteMeter' to see what the Twitter community had to say about SiteMeter.

And they had a BUNCH to say!

Apparently, SiteMeter sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, rolled out a 'redesigned' version of their site. And Twitter users were NOT happy. Screen after screen of search results greeted me from Twitter users reporting also having difficulties logging in. Those that could, were horrified at the changes that SiteMeter had made. Many were stating that they either were going to dump SiteMeter, or had already. I tried for almost two hours to log-in to my SiteMeter to view the trainwreck for myself, before finally giving up.

But later that afternoon, I decided to try SiteMeter again. I was greeted by a message stating that the site was down because it was in the process of rolling back to the PREVIOUS version. Apparently, SiteMeter had heard the same sea of complaints about the 'new' version that everyone else had. Then on their blog, they issued an apology that stated that:

Our intention is and has always been to offer you, our customer’s better tools and more accurate data. Obviously we fell short of this. The first thing we need to do, moving forward, is to roll out new product releases in parallel to our current platform. This will give everyone a chance to try out, evaluate, and comment on our new concepts.

We would also like to take this opportunity to ask those of you who had issues or concerns with the new site to participate in future beta testing. We had originally asked for Beta Tester in two of our newsletters sent earlier this year so we’re eager to build our beta group even larger. If you’re interested in participating please send us an email using our support ticketing system with BETA TESTER in the subject line of your email.

In the near term we’ll be evaluating the performance issues and feedback from our community. If you have additional input that would help us build you a better product we’d like to hear from you.

We apologize for the botched rollout and will do our best to make sure the next time we do this it has your full support and blessing.

And as you can see here, the tone became decidedly more positive after users began to realize that SiteMeter had not only rolled back to the previous version, but had apologized.

Also, it appears that SiteMeter began using a Twitter account during this turmoil, another good sign. Which again points to how vitally important it is for companies to monitor what is being said about them online. If SiteMeter was monitoring Twitter when the site redesign rolled out, and it appears they were, then they could instantly get a feel for the feedback coming from users that were getting their first look at the new site. And they could immediately see that the response was overwhelmingly negative. They could see users announcing that they were leaving.

Interesting sidenote; I've been finalizing the content for my Blogging Workshop at SBMU, and I decided that I wanted to give attendees a quick overview of a few tools such as SiteMeter, for tracking blog traffic. But if the redesign had stayed, it meant I would have had to change my workshop to expose the attendees to another stat-tracking site besides SiteMeter, due to their changing their site and the information they track. But since SiteMeter rolled back, I can now show attendees how to use the site, and I feel more comfortable evangelizing it to attendees, based on how they listened to, and responded to their users.

This is why I keep telling companies that negative feedback left about your company is an opportunity! SiteMeter's users were telling the site that they had better do something fast, or they were going to lose them. If SiteMeter had ignored their users, today their userbase would likely be significantly smaller, with many of those users likely going to a competitor such as StatCounter. But since they listened and ACTED on the feedback from their users, they likely won most if not all of them back, and they look better for listening.

Well done SiteMeter, good job of salvaging what could have been a very bad situation.

1 comment:

I Can't Keep Up said...

I really appreciate your wrap-up point here- several of my clients have had "freak-outs" (their words, not mine), over negative comments on sites like yelp.com. It really is an opportunity to reach out and build relationships- and to conduct a kind of market research. While not scientific, a positive public reaction to complaints shows customers your true colors. And who isn't impressed by that!

Thanks again for providing another great opportunity to learn! I am looking forward to hearing about your SBMU experiences!