Taking the guesswork out of testing with UX metrics

Illustration of a person facing two monitors that show different data and the letters A and B over them.

What are UX metrics?

The goal of every business is to be as successful as possible, and the amount of money, or more accurately, profit, tends to be your most significant indicator.

That’s a metric.

We live in a data-driven decision-making society. As a result, there’s very little reason to factor guesswork into how we design, build, sell, and market our products, as we can test and monitor almost every last step in the system.

The results of these tests—the data—are the metrics, or KPIs (key performance indicators), that help us to define our shortcomings and successes, to fix what isn’t working well, and do more of what is.

Utilising the essential metrics for user experience is a must to create simple, streamlined services and products. As a result, they’ll be easier to operate and provide a more engaging experience, turning users into fans and promoters.

The benefits of UX design metrics

  • Delivers quantifiable results for hard-to-track items
  • Reveals problems you didn’t know you had
  • It helps to pinpoint blockages in funnels and the pain points in your process
  • Documents results from AB and other types of testing
  • Provides progress tracking over time
  • Maintains simplified reporting for clients and stakeholders

The UX performance metrics critical to your project

You should be able to allocate appropriate scores to each function, feature, or singular step in each process. Still, one thing is constant—nobody builds a perfect product the first time, and you can constantly improve upon results.

Understanding what to measure means setting clear goals of what your product has to achieve.

Specific metrics help you pinpoint those goals. Take the North Star Metric (NSM), for example. The NSM gauges the business’s long-term success by defining its most essential metric.

For example:

  • Number of subscriptions
  • Number of bookings
  • Number of downloads
  • Amount of purchases
  • Volume of searches
  • Advertising revenue raised

What makes the best user research metrics?

With today’s technology, we can measure almost anything we want, so deciding which design features to track and quantify in each situation is essential.

  1. Aligns with key objectives
  2. Is actionable
  3. Is relevant
  4. Is comparable with the competition’s performance

They show how important it is never to lose sight of your primary goal, that your observations are there to develop improvements, and that the transformations you make are relevant to overall and segment operations.

Finally, you need your product to be the best on the market, so pitching it against your competition should always be part of the plan.

Measuring success in international projects

What constitutes success? It helps to determine the goals mentioned above and target figures, but you also need to recognise which measurements and observations will be your essential UX success metrics.

Regarding international UX, cultural and language barriers can mean that some of the essential data get overlooked. Having the most suitable test subjects for each project means choosing those that offer the most value throughout testing. If your ideal testers aren’t those of a particular educational level, keeping a diary could be harder work for them than the testing itself.

Opting for a measurement system that provides a scale of emotional response instead of an explanation will help them provide data far easier to quantify and measure, leaving nothing to get lost in translation.

Managing your user experience metrics

There’s so much data available, but without the right tools, it will merely float around, achieving little. The best packages and tools will recognise the patterns, highlight your highs and lows, and present them in easy-to-digest and understandable charts, graphs, and reports.

With those to hand—as opposed to a mass of impossible-to-determine multi-columned spreadsheets—you can turn your information into the solutions and next steps that will make your product sing.

Attitudinal and behavioural UX metrics

There are two main types of UX metrics with different methods of measurement.

Attitudinal UX metrics revolve around how users feel and are generally measured on a ‘system usability scale’ of happy to sad or highly satisfied to extremely unsatisfied.

These measures are ideally suited to questionnaires and aren’t definite actions recognised by software systems such as tracking or heat maps.

Behavioural UX metrics are generally more technical and quantitative. Usually measured by software systems or observation, they have clearly defined units and are regularly converted into percentages or rates.

Examples of attitudinal UX metrics

System usability scale (SUS)

This scale is an industry standard for measuring perceived usability. It takes the form of a questionnaire with a (typically) five-point scale ranking results from strongly agree/very satisfied/highly enjoyable to strongly disagree/highly unsatisfied/not at all enjoyable. Ranking such feelings from 1 to 5 quantifies emotions, creating more concise reports.

Customer effort score (CES)

To provide an exceptional user experience, you must ensure that users encounter everything they need to get them to task completion with the least stress. CES is designed to lower friction throughout each process, whether buying an item, making a complaint, or finding contact details.

Reducing your customer effort score lowers service costs and bounce rates, keeping hold of customers and optimising ROI.

Net promoter score (NPS)

NPS shows how likely your users are to recommend your product to a friend or colleague. It’s a key indicator of customer loyalty and can be valuable when proving how investing in UX improves customer loyalty and lifetime value to stakeholders.

The figures determine who your promoters, passives, and detractors are and what you need to do to change their views.

Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)

This is an essential metric for all developers, UX practitioners, and stakeholders. Customer satisfaction surveys are easy to deliver and quantify, and regular repeats can isolate issues and areas that change over time or from updates and additions.

Examples of behavioural UX metrics

Task success rate

Task success is one of the most common metrics in user experience. This success rate shows how many users successfully navigated your product or feature to conversion.

The rate is calculated by dividing the number of correctly completed tasks by the total number of attempts.

Task success rate = Correctly completed tasks / Total number of attempts

Tasks realistically need a clearly defined goal, like adding items to a cart, completing a download, filling in a form, etc.

Time on task

Another metric with obvious value is time on task (or task time, completion time, and a host of other variations that all mean the same thing). For example, how long it takes a user to complete a task can show if they’re struggling to get to the finish line or subjected to too many distractions.

Getting users to completion or conversion is the prime objective of most goals. However, there are instances where a longer time on task is better, for example, when engaging them with content, watching videos, or playing a game (or through the gamification of a valuable process like bidding in an auction or swiping on possible new partners).

Search vs navigation

Page navigation is one of the most critical aspects of a product’s UX, so if users avoid it in favour of the search tool, it could be because it’s confusing or doesn’t lead them to their required content simply enough.

When users get lost amidst too many or confusing content categories, they head for the search bar. Not always, but a measured rate is the best way to determine what’s acceptable and what’s a problem.

User error rate

Error rates are essential to UX. If your latest product version shows high error rates, you’d be excused for feeling disappointed, but the truth is, they identify the pitfalls you can iron out to make your product stronger.

While the problems might not be in the programming, they could certainly be in the delivery. Finding out which elements users are clicking when they shouldn’t, how they’re misfiling forms or failing to find the call to action button can all be improved, lowering instance numbers and improving your rates.

Adoption metrics

Monitoring how often and how long users engage with your product reveals how much value they get from it. Ideally, you want users to incorporate your product into their everyday activities. That shows it’s adding beneficial information or experiences to their day, delivering just what you need to make it rewarding and ‘sticky’.

In conclusion

Optimising user experience is vital in today’s market. With so much data available after a product is launched, it would be embarrassing to hand-feed your competition and reviewers the fuel they need to deliver lasting damage to your reputation and sales or subscriber figures.

Using the metrics UX deliver, you and your users are the only eyes to witness those solvable shortcomings, streamlining your service and experience, leading to the launch of a positive, user-friendly product with the best chance of turning new users into fans and promoters.

Remember, UX isn’t just about how user-friendly your website or app is, but how easily and enjoyably your users get to the finish line and the different ways you can push them there faster, happier, and more often. Pinpointing UX design is all about numbers; the more efficiently you can measure and quantify the actions that make up your funnels and journeys, the better.

If you would like to know more about UX metrics please get in contact at hello@ux247.com.

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