Feedback cycle
problemEven promising ideas with detailed project plans and broad appeal can fail to achieve their goals if what they produce is not useful and relevant to the right people.
solutionAsk for specific, usable feedback from your target audience at several points during your project, and make changes based on that feedback.
creatorJmorgan (WMF)
created on29 January, 2014
status:in progress

What problem does this solve?


Most promising projects start with a great idea and a detailed and realistic plan of action. However, project teams may lose sight of their original goals, or may realize too late that they made some incorrect assumptions at the beginning of their project about what their audience needed, or how to address those needs most effectively. New opportunities and new challenges arise during the course of every project. All of these factors affect your final outcome: whether the tool you designed is useful and widely-used, or whether the event you planned is successful and well-attended.

What is the solution?


Whether your goal is to directly engage people to do something or provide them with resources to help them do it on their own, you need to ask for their input on both your initial plans and on your progress. Ask for feedback from your target audience at regular intervals during your project, ideally at points where you have new questions to ask them, or new information to share.

You also need to be willing to make changes to your process or your plan based on that feedback. Highly successful projects often repeat the cycle of eliciting feedback and making changes based on that feedback several times over the course of the project. This process, called iteration, is an important part of user-centered design, which is a set of methods that can be used to design many different things, from software and websites to an edit-a-thon or a curriculum.

General considerations

  • Ask for input when you have something new to share. Good times to ask for feedback include after you have revised your project plan, or created a prototype, or collected data from a survey.
  • Respond to feedback. Let the people you know that you appreciate their feedback, even if you do not intend to follow their advice. Ask follow-up questions if someone gives feedback that surprises you, or that you do not immediately understand.
  • Unvoiced feedback Some users or attendees will provide little or no feedback. At times they can represent the "silent majority". Look for incongruities between your expectations and actual use. This article from Visual Studio Magazine gives some helpful ideas on listening to feedback. It is also important to request feedback sincerely rather than because it is expected. Most users/attendees have an opinion or idea to improve but do not want to spend their time giving feedback that will not be heard.

When to use

Educational initiatives

Members of the WikiArs project, which focused on designing an initiative to encourage art students to contribute high-quality graphics to Wikimedia Commons, asked for feedback from art school professors on their initial drafts of the art course assignment sheets they were asking the professors to use. They worked with the professors to improve the assignments and integrate them into the rest of the course materials.[1]

Tutorials and online games

Members of The Wikipedia Adventure project ran usability studies with early prototype of the game, and later recruited Wikipedians to play an Alpha version. Significant changes were made to the design of the interface and the specific game missions based on these two feedback cycles.[2]



See also



  1. Individual Engagement Grant: Consolidate wikiArS to involve art schools. final report
  2. Individual Engagement Grant: The Wikipedia Adventure. final report