Getting Public Feedback Online?

Content From: AIDS.govPublished: May 20, 20153 min read


NHAS ideation tool - instagram_image1

What do you call a process for generating new ideas?

If you said “brainstorming,” allow us to introduce you to the digital form of that process: ideation tools. These are online feedback forums you can use to:

  • Engage your stakeholders directly
  • Capture new ideas
  • Collect input and feedback on issues that matter to you and your organization

Ideation tools are popular across both the public and private sectors. For example, the Obama Administration has been using them for the past 5 years to get ideas on a number of issues, including: making government more open; improving Federal websites; and developing new government tools and apps.

When should you use an ideation tool?

Do you need new ideas to energize your work? Are you searching for innovative ways to improve your existing strategies and tactics?

If so, ideation tools may be a good option for you and your stakeholders. You benefit by getting direct engagement and feedback from your target audience(s). They benefit when you use their ideas to inform your efforts and increase your effectiveness.

Planning to use ideation tools?

Any time you consider adopting a new communications tool, you should ask yourself:

  • Who is the audience I am trying to reach?
  • What do I need the tool to do and will this tool do that?
  • Do I have the resources to manage the tool?
  • Is the tool accessible to people with disabilities? (For help with this question, you can check out this collection of resources at

When you have defined your audience(s), chosen your tool, and are getting ready to set it up, you can use these suggestions adapted from Digital to help you get started:

  • Make it clear what you want people to do: This is the most critical part of setting up your ideation process. Be sure to use plain language to ask for the feedback you want.
  • Define policies, rules, and requirements: Be clear about issues like privacy, Terms of Use, and the type of submissions allowed. Have a moderation policy in place and a plan for responding, as needed. (For example, check out the policies on our ideation tool.)
  • Be committed to acting on user recommendations. This doesn't mean you have to act on or implement every recommendation. Just be ready to explain why you used some ideas and not others.
  • Share the results: It’s important to let your stakeholders know what you plan to do with the ideas they offered.

For additional tips on setting up a successful ideation process, check out

Ideation tools in action: recently helped the White House Office of National AIDS Policy launch an online feedback forum. The plan is to gather public input on how the goals and action steps of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) can be updated to improve the national response to the HIV epidemic.

The White House forum allows users to make suggestions on any or all of the four NHAS goals. Visitors can also comment on other people’s suggestions, and vote for their favorites.

To view that online feedback forum and share your ideas, visit by May 22, 2015.

Share your thoughts:

Have you used an ideation tool? If so, please share what you learned in the comments!

Also, watch for an blog post on the White House ideation tool in the near future. We look forward to sharing the lessons we learn from that experience.