We used to run client surveys pretty regularly, about a couple of times a year. This was always a great source of insights - I read every survey and replied to everyone who provided comments.
However, it was taking its toll -- for the survey we did in November 2010, it took me a few weeks to review and reply to all of the surveys. So when it was time to launch the next survey, I kept postponing it because blocking off a few weeks of my time was getting hard.
To solve this problem, we've decided to change our approach to surveys. Instead of surveying all clients at once, we've decided to survey a portion of them every month - according to their account anniversary date. We launched the new survey in July 2012 and have now also run it in August. We got a good number of replies: July had 157 and August has 208 and counting.
It was much easier for me to review and reply to 157 surveys, so I am really excited that we can now track on a monthly basis how are we doing for our clients.
Stay tuned -- once we gather the September data as well, we will publish the results of these surveys and replace our current outdated page.
In the meantime, let me share with you a few interesting tidbits from the July survey:
- "...I like the improved accounting features. Members can now see what they owe and their history."
- "...The Help File while big, is excellent!"
If you were to recommend Wild Apricot to others, how would you explain the benefits of using it?
- "...1. Handles our membership 2. Handles our conference registration 3. Consolidates all member information across many databases 4. Separate administration allows me to view information beyond what the general membership can see."
- "...It is a great tool for managing events and membership information online. By allowing members online access, they are able to connect with each other without having to call the office and have someone else search the membership directory. No need to print a directory - the online directory is always current..."
- "...My partners and I love Wild Apricot! I can't begin to tell you how much time it has saved us. I use it for two organizations. The member management and events management are flawless and we really appreciate the integration between the two. Your customer support is outstanding. I have noticed many changes in the latest release that make things easier..."
What aspects/functions of Wild Apricot do you find the most useful and why?
- "...1 Being able to have a non-technical person edit web pages easily 2 Events module - we used Regonline previously - WA is so much easier to use and functions perfectly 3 Member management functions - saves huge amounts of time 4 Ability to give different levels of access to webpages and events based on membership level and tags - it is very cleverly done!..."
- "...The integration of the website, events and member management saves a tremendous amount of time. It is easy for non-technical people to update the web pages, add events, add members and search for information in the contacts database..."
- "...Self-service for our members is great. Really nice for our members to be able to see their own financials. Love the combination of event management and member administration. Price is awesome. Value-to-benefit is outstanding..."
- "...The system isn't perfect, but it comes closer to doing what I need, at a better price, than other programs I've seen...."
- "...It makes membership management terrific compared to the nightmares of doing it in Excel...."
- "...Although you are a small company, I think you are surprisingly responsive to questions, bugs, and improvement ideas. I also like the live tech phone support from people that are NOT in an overseas call center and that speak very good English...."
- "...I love the templates for the emails, great update!..."
- "...No need to wait 24 hours for a web design company to make edits to web site. Web updates can be done in real time..."
And no, it's not like all of the comments were nice and rosy...we got quite a few criticisms as well and many ideas for further improvements. Here are some examples:
- [RE: Help Docs] The explanations are frequently obscure. Often basic underlying concepts and terminology are not explained. The documentation assumes too much prior knowledge. Please remember that most volunteer organizations choose Wild Apricot precisely because they are NOT techies.
- "...1. SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY 2. Listen to your users. 3. Do not assume that you know how groups work. 4. Ask your users what they really need and how their groups really operate...."
- "...It is a very useful, low cost solution for nonprofit organizations. I would have reservations about its report making abilty...."
- "...For what it is, it does a great job. But a great looking website is done by profesional designers and UI front end developers and I think it is hard to overhaul the default views. It seems like you need a professional site for general presentation and WA for a dedicated members-only page. It is tricky and risky to override the default buttons and styles. I know it is possible though. Still the best combination of features and customization out of the box though...."
- "...Excellent membership management, cost effective website for people who are mid-range tech savvy (too confusing/too technical of explanations for beginner user and not enough flexibility for an advanced web manager)...."
Also I found it very gratifying that so many of our clients originally learned about Wild Apricot from their friends and colleagues:
I greatly appreciate ongoing feedback from all of our clients, and you have our firm commitment that we will keep working to make Wild Apricot better, while also making it easier to learn and use! (tall order, huh?)
One of our senior developers has recently come up with a way to visualize and benchmark our software quality:
This chart shows # of bugs per 1000 lines of code (KLOC)
This is pretty commonly used in the software industry and comes closest to the objective benchmark for software quality. (See this blog post about industry benchmark for this metric.)
So, what can we say about Wild Apricot?
- Overall, this ratio has been trending up for the last few years. Not by a huge margin - but still.
- Compared to industry averages, we are doing well (under 5 bugs/KLOC vs. 15-50 industry average); but we are behind the industry titans like Microsoft who are reported to have 0.5 bugs/KLOC
- Our most recent release 4.4 had about the same ratio as the previous one (4.3) but the proportion of high priority bugs was lower (good!)
I would say we are doing reasonably well, but definitely have lots of room for improvement!
What's next for Wild Apricot
For the next few months all of our attention is being devoted to the next Version 5.0, which will have a fully redesigned CMS (Content Management System -- editing of web pages and customization of the website). We have mentioned it in some of the past posts and provided screenshots of some of the new features and changes. Development work will continue full speed at least until the end of October, and then we will take several months for testing and final polish. So, my current expectation is to see it released in March-April 2013.
Starting next month we will be publishing more information and screenshots of changes in improvements coming in Wild Apricot CMS in Version 5.0
For now, let me share one of the new design themes that is being currently implemented and will be included in Version 5.0: