Skip to main content
  1. Practial Guides/

More easily collect feedback on your blog

·5 mins·

So I have this website. I will necessarily include errors. If somebody spots an error I would like to make it easy for them to help me fixing it.

I would categorize people that want to help into the categories of:

  1. Known vs unknown: if the person knows the author directly
  2. Technical vs non-technical: if the person is capable of editing the source and submitting a patch

If you don’t provide people who are willing to help with another option they will communicate change requests through these communication channels:

Non-technicalEmailEmail or private messenge
TechnicalEmailEmail or private messenge

The issue with email #

It’s better than nothing, but a few problems will crop up:

  1. People have to leave the website to write and email or take notes.
  2. Corrections will be inconsistent or have information (where) missing.
  3. Visual defects hard to describe through just text.
  4. Missed opportunity for technical people to make the correction for you.

We can do better than that.

Overview of solutions #

Lets go through what we can do for each type of person:

  1. Unknown, non-technical person: They are the class least likely to be interested in helping and it’s hardest to set something up for them.
  2. Known, non-technical person: Much more willing to help and we can provide them with a tool that doesn’t need anonymous access.
  3. Technical person: The most likely to want to help out. Give them an easy way to submit a patch.

This gets me this generic version of the table:

TechnicalSubmit a patchSubmit a patch

The concrete solutions I have implemented are detailed below. How hard or easy they are for you to adopt depends entirely on your setup. But there might be comparable variants in whatever you are using. Even if you can not make use of them directly the principles will be the same.

These are the solutions that I am using and will detail below:

Non-technicalEmailNetlify Drawer
TechnicalEdit on Github buttonEdit on Github button or Netlify Drawer

Netlify Drawer #

This solution depends on your site being hosted on Netlify.

How does it work? #

You have a UI element at the bottom of the page that you can expand to reveal a form through which to send in corrections via text, point out visual mistakes via screenshots or record video for interactions1. Here are some screenshots:

Netlify drawer at the bottom of the page
The drawer on the bottom of a page.
Example of the expanded Netlify drawer
Submit a correction through the expanded drawer.

Make sure to assign an epic, so the owner will be notified:

Netlify Drawer epic dropdown

And that’s it from the user perspective. They just send of their report and close the drawer. As the operator I get this email with all the info I need to fix the reported issue:

Email from Shortcut notifying me of an issue

Setup #

These are the steps:

  1. Setup a parallel site with the Netlify Drawer activated
  2. Create a reviewer Netlify account
  3. Create two Shortcut accounts
  4. Configure Shortcut accounts
  5. Configure Netlify reviewer account

1. Setup a parallel site with the Netlify Drawer activated #

We don’t want to active the Netlify Drawer on production. So we need a parallel site that updates whenever production does, but has the Netlify Drawer enabled. So go to Netlify and:

  • Create a new site
  • Supply the same repo as build source
  • (Optional: Change the build command -> I also made drafts visible.)
  • Under “Branches and deploy contexts” set the production branch to “none” or something invalid and add your main branch under “Branch deploys” (Netlify Drawer only works on Branches, not prod)
  • Scroll down to “Collaboration tools” and make sure it is enable on branch deploys

Now whenever you deploy your project you will get a secondary deployment with Netlify Drawer enabled. The working link will be branch + site name like this:

2. Create a reviewer Netlify account #

We want to have a reviewer account whose credentials we can just pass along to all our reviewers. So let’s create a new account for that. It’s easiest if you start by inviting them as a reviewer to your team under “Team > Members > Reviewers > Add Reviewer.” Then just sign-up.

3. Create two Shortcut accounts #

Head over to Shortcut to first create an account for yourself. If you sign-up with an email from Kill the Newsletter you can get all communication (i.e. future notifications of changes) in an RSS feed. After sign-up, invite the reviewer account to your shortcut team. Go through their sign-up flow as well.

4. Configure Shortcut accounts #

While on your main account, go into “Settings > Notifications” and enable “Most Events.” Then select the “Epics” section in the sidebar under “Teams > All Work” and create a new epic for your reviewers to create issues in. Assign yourself as owner so you will be notified of new issues being created.

While on the secondary reviewer account, go into “Settings > API Tokens” create a new one and save it for the next step.

5. Configure Netlify reviewer account #

Open your secondary Netlify deployment, open the drawer and log in with the Netlify reviewer account. Go into integrations and connect to Shortcut by pasting in the API Token for the Shortcut reviewer account created in the last step.

6. Profit #

Now everything is setup and you can pass the Netlify reviewer credentials and the secondary deployment link along to your reviewers. You will be notified of their reports via email.

Edit on Github #

This requires your blog sources to be hosted publicly. In my case that is on Github.

How does it work? #

I have a button at the top of the page that leads to the markdown source file of that page.

A title on my website with the edit on github button highlighted

That buttons leads to:

Where the user can now edit the page and submit a pull request.

Setup #

You need to find a ways to generate and embed the link the source file into the page. That is something my hugo theme (congo) does for me. I just supply this config:

    showEdit = true
    editURL = ""
    editAppendPath = true

Conclusions #

If come across problems on this website feel to use the edit button below the title or let me know via email 🙂

  1. You can read more about it in Netlify’s docs↩︎