You know that scene in Alice in Wonderland where Alice is tumbling down the rabbit hole past all those miscellaneous chairs and birds? That same feeling of confused dread is often how users feel when they're attempting to navigate a site that has never been tested. We know that developers pour their souls into their projects. But that's also why it's sometimes difficult (and even personal) to point out the flaws. A developer has to ask, "Do I want it built my way without compromise or do I want users?" If you want to run a business, rather than spending months speculating on what you think users might want, it's sometimes best to simply ask them.
Launchly is a web application review site where developers can upload screen shots and links and ask for user advice and feedback. Released this past week, Launchly appears to be a beefier version of Feedback Army with the additional abilities to track changes and request multiple rounds of recommendations.
The site allows developers to submit and resubmit their projects in iterations. Each iteration must be at least a week from the last one and new iterations are bumped to the top of the "New Launches" section. This placement in the "New Launches" section prompts user responses via Twitter and RSS. From here, developers gain a new round of suggestions, traffic data and social buzz aggregation. Older iterations are then stored in the "Iteration Archives" for review.
Says Minnesota-based Launchly founder Brian McManus, "When my own launch day came, I did the typical submissions and SEO stuff but still found myself wondering what people thought of the idea and site in general. I turned to HackerNews and requested feedback there."
McManus was thrilled with his feedback but unfortunately his post was shortly buried below a slew of other posts. He could resubmit for further discussion, but he'd lose the thread of suggestions he'd already received. In order to track his site changes and show the evolution of his own work, he created Launchly. McManus is currently charging $40 for the standard launch package and he plans to roll out two additional tiers to incorporate the added features of polls, custom sub-domains and usability testing.
The truly interesting part about this service is that it allows reviewers to see sites evolve as per their suggestions. In essence, Launchly creates a sense of ownership and site-loyalty for those who've contributed feedback. While it's too soon to say if the site will take off, it's a great way for developers to gain new insight into the projects they're often too close to. It's also a non-violent and civil way to settle team disputes and make a case for changes to stubborn executives.