Getfeedback launches a new portal


An interview with Gavin Foster, Senior Developer at Getfeedback


This month saw the launch of Getfeedback’s new client portal. This is where our systems trained users access their accounts to set up tests and surveys, send reminders to candidates, and retrieve reports. After a period of 6 months of development and testing of new features and layout, the updated portal has been successfully rolled out to all our self-admin clients.

We interviewed Gavin Foster, Senior Developer at Getfeedback concerning the new portal.

Heather: What was the reason for doing the re-design?

Gavin: The system was originally built in 2000 and was technically very advanced at the time. As technology moves forward it offers the opportunity to improve on how things are done and introduce new things. For me this was an opportunity to continue to deliver leading edge technology and give our customers what they deserve. We felt in bringing it up to date we were able to introduce additional functionality, make it compatible with many more browsers and to cope better with all the new tests and surveys we have added to our range.

Heather: What were your objectives when you started out?

Gavin: Quite simply to improve further what we had. With users in mind we wanted to improve the interface so that it was easy to understand and for users to be able to quickly find the information needed.

Heather: And have these objectives been achieved?

Gavin: Yes. Feedback has been very positive. Our customers tell us that they are finding surveys more quickly and that they are able to do so much more than they could previously, such as editing each survey before buying them, saving survey templates to re-use later and using our communications wizard to select and save different email templates depending on whether they want to email a candidate for the first time, send reminders, email those who have replied, email particular groups of people and so on.

Having said that, we’re not finished yet! As part of the development we built in the ability to review and update the system so that we can respond to feedback and continue to improve and evolve.

Heather: Any ideas for improvements that you can share right now?

Gavin: Lots! We’d like to add the functionality to pre-set report distribution so that reports are automatically emailed to the intended recipient as soon as they are ready, or on a pre-specified date. We’ll create the ability to automate start and end dates for tests and surveys.
We also hope to get some ideas from our customers, we’d love to hear their suggestions.

Heather: How did you decide which features to include this time?

Gavin: This is a big, complex system covering over 130 products and more than 15,000 surveys to date. And so the initial release was largely about making sure that whatever we did was functionally stable. After we had ensured the stability we then prioritised those features that would be most useful to the widest group of users. Search was top of the list – we wanted to make it possible to search for any test, survey or candidate as quickly as possible. I created a “quick search” on the main page which can search on a variety of different things (survey id, candidate name, survey name for instance) and I created an “advanced search” which allows “wild card” searches – it’s easy to forget the candidate’s full name or correct spelling – this search helps users search even with only part of the name.

Heather: This version seems much more visually interesting than the previous – how did you end up with this style?

Gavin: We investigated a lot of different layouts, in the end we went for simple graphics that are easy to understand and a layout that isn’t over complicated. It looks really simplistic, even if behind the scenes the technology is actually very sophisticated and jumping through all sorts of hoops!

Heather: So tell me about some of the clever techie stuff I should know about?!

Gavin: The system is cross compatible with macs and windows. It’s been tested on internet explorer (all versions), Firefox and mac Firefox. And it works to a resolution of 1024 x768, our research showed that less than 1% of our users have less than this resolution. And I had 14,800 lines of code to write. You did ask!

Our testing was also pretty unique. Before any software release is made we need to be sure that any changes we’ve made don’t break something else in the system (a common software development problem, particularly with complex systems). We conduct 2 levels of testing: unit testing and functional testing. A unit test tests basic parts of the system in isolation and a functional test tests the system as the user would see it. We conducted over 320 unit tests and functional testing of the top 80% of our products used in the last 12 months.
Before any change to the system is released we run these tests, this is very rare!

Heather: What are you most proud of?

Gavin: I think it’s the speed of responsiveness of the system. As soon as the user selects a survey it’s in the shopping cart; as soon as they send it it’s in the candidate’s in-box; as soon as the candidate completes – bang the report’s ready and available! That’s pretty impressive!

Heather: So what’s next in the development pipeline?

Gavin: As well as ongoing development of features for the admin system, I’m going to be focusing on overhauling Getfeedback’s 360 portals and surveys, creating enhanced functionality for survey administrators, delegates and raters who are taking part in a 360 degree feedback survey. I’m really looking forward to seeing where we can take our 360 survey technology next!
If you have any feedback regarding the new administration platform or would like to make a suggestion for future feature development please email us at technical@getfeedback.net

Not already a systems user? Contact James Shimmen on 01491 845532 to find out how you can simplify your test and survey processes by becoming a user of our client portal.