Forget UserVoice and GetSatisfaction. Send me your feature requests through YouTube.

Posted on by Ari Bader-Natal

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Dennis Daniels is more effective than you are at getting his feature requests heard. Why? Because every one of his requests comes in the form of a screencast video uploaded to YouTube. He has, literally, thousands of them online already, and he added seven to the count this week while looking at Sketchpad this week. I have to say, I have not seen a more effective way of requesting a new feature, suggesting a change, or demonstrating a bug. Each one the screencasts that Dennis recorded about Sketchpad has been both fun for me to watch -- he appreciates many of the my favorite Sketchpad features -- and difficult as well, as he struggles to find things that I built but didn't make easy to discover. His screencasts are one part feature request and one part user testing session. For me, the guy who's building the application, it's a fascinating mix. Here are links to a few of them:

I continue to receive great suggestions and feedback from people using Sketchpad through the UserVoice page that I set up (which is a very useful service!) I always respond to these as they come in, many have already turned into new features, and many more are on near-term to-do list. But Dennis's videos are different. I can't seem to put off these fixes and requests. It's difficult to watch someone flail when trying to use something that you built. Test this out: record a screencast in which you struggle to accomplish something reasonable and useful in a web application, upload the screencast to YouTube, and email the video link to the application's developer. Then start your watch. Count the hours before the problem is fixed, the existing feature is made more discoverable, or your must-have feature appears on their production boxes. If you send your email to the right person, I think that this will happen pretty quickly. I, for one, felt compelled to act after watching the videos. Wouldn't you?

Next time I find myself wanting to request a feature on someone else's web application, I'll test this out. Perhaps I'll do a video request for video requests on UserVoice. Or maybe I should record a feature request for recording feature requests on UserTesting.

Feeling inspired by the medium, I recorded a video response to one of Dennis's feature requests. His request is the first video, and my response is the second. Enjoy!

The sketch that I'm playing with in the video is Modified clone of "Spinner"