A successful business isn’t one which is only concerned with selling products but is one which makes efforts to improve the sales by taking into account the users. Without the users or customers entering the picture, a business isn’t complete, and this is where the concept of User Experience (UX) comes into play.
For each and every seller, business or organization, evaluation of consumer interest, preference, behavior, and emotions is highly important, and the concept of UX helps us measure these attributes. Through this article, we shall try and understand what user experience really is and how the HEART framework helps to measure the quality of UX.
We will provide 1) a short introduction to user experience (UX), 2) how to measure user experience, and 3) user performance framework inclusing Google’s HEART framework.
User Experience (UX) is a term that is used to refer to a deep understanding of the user’s or customer’s preferences, behaviors, values and their abilities. Through UX measurement, one can measure the attitudes and emotions of users regarding a certain product, service or a system. User experience includes the main aspects of the interaction between humans and the computer systems. This very concept helps businesses fathom the kind of experiences users have while using either the products or services or the website or any other web platform of the company. They can know the ease of usage, the perception of the value of the system as well as the efficiency in performing certain tasks.
User experience or UX is continuously modified with respect to time and, for this reason, it is considered dynamic in nature. It changes with changes in circumstances and situations and is subjective in nature. In simple words, User experience can also be defined as how a person feels while using a system at a particular time. The system could be anything including a web application, a website, software or a hardware system. The overall purpose or aim of measuring UX is to improve the quality of the interaction of the users regarding a system.
History of User experience
It was in the 1990s that Donald Norman brought the term ‘User experience’ into wider knowledge. Earlier, this term was used to indicate a shift to take into account not just behavioral contexts but also affective factors. But even till date, several practitioners continue to research and evaluate these affective factors that are associated with end users or consumers. There have been many developments that have led to a rise in the interest in user experience since then and they are given as follows:
- Improvements and advances in social, mobile and tangible computer systems and technologies into several areas of activities of humans.
- Combination of interests of several stakeholders in website designing too led to an increase in the interest levels. What happened was that those who were associated with branding and marketing needed to access the interactive part of this field in such a way that they could measure usability. But those who were concerned with website designing needed to consider branding, marketing as well as all the other aesthetical aspects. Thus, it was User Experience that offered a way to cover all these interests at the same time.
If you are a business owner and own a website, then do you sometimes wonder why you have a lot of visitors on your website but not enough conversions? Have you ever given a thought to why the retention rate of visitors is low? Well, if you have these questions then only one thing can answer them accurately, and that is measuring the User Experience. Usability simply refers to the ease at which a user is when using a product or service offered by you and by measuring this, you can have answers to all your queries about the experience of the users. The following are some of the UX metrics that can help measure UX effectively.
What are UX Metrics?
UX metrics are a superb and powerful tool for measuring the performance of any system or product. UX metrics can be best used when they are combined with marketing metrics. UX metrics are slightly different than metrics that are used in marketing, finance or sales. The following are some of the most commonly used UX metrics:
One of the user experience metrics which proves useful and effective in measuring the customer’s opinions and preferences is the usability factor. This metric concentrates upon how easy is it for people or users to find what they are looking for and with how much ease can they accomplish what they aim to do. The following are some aspects of usability that UX teams are engaged in measuring in most of the cases:
- Time on task – The time taken to complete a particular task or activity is one of the things that defines usability.
- Task success – The success rate or nature of the task at hand is also one of the important aspects of overall usability.
- Confusion moment – Usability also takes into account the number of moments of confusion that a user may face while performing a certain task.
- Cue recognition – The ease of recognition of icons or cues too is measured when measuring usability.
- Menu/navigation use – The ease of use of the navigation systems, drop-down menus and other menus too can be included.
This is a highly crucial category of user metrics and is often considered the main aspect of overall user experience. UX teams spend a lot of time trying to figure out the nature of the interaction of engagement that users have with a system or site. The following are some of the factors that may be included in the broad category of engagement.
- Attention minutes – The amount of attention that a user gives to a website is something that engagement may revolve around majorly.
- Happiness rating – How good a user feels when using a system or website too is an important aspect covered in this category.
- Flow state – The ease of flow from one block of information to another is the flow state and comes with engagement.
- Total time reading – Total time spent on a website or particular portions of that website help to measure the level of engagement as well.
Conversion is a crucial metric but is one that basically focuses only on that small percentage of users who seem interested in converting or have converted. For every business, it is important to know how many and how often do visitors convert into customers so that they can figure out the trends that are leading to this conversion and improve upon them further. The following are some of the factors that are encircled within this user metric.
- Conversion rate – The exact rate of conversion is one of the most important factors included in this metric.
- Likelihood to recommend, or NPS – Net promoter score (NPS) or the likelihood of a user recommending a product or service to another user.
- Likelihood to take action – This factor measures the chances that a consumer is about to take an action such as order a product, try a service, etc.
During the process of website designing, one can evaluate and analyze the usability of a product or service and compare interfaces through A/B testing. But to pursue this, it is important to choose and use the correct metrics that can be selected on the basis of some useful methods. These methods must point out to the metrics that represent not just the quality of user experience but also the overall goals of a project or a product.
Two parts of the framework:
- The quality of user experience (Google’s HEART framework)
- The goals of project or product (The Goals-signals-metrics process)
Part #1 Google’s Heart Framework
Google’s HEART framework is a strong and powerful user-centric metric which can be used to evaluate and measure the advancements made towards the main objectives or product decisions. HEART Framework is put to use for defining the large scale metrics that can be both behavioral in nature as well as attitudinal. HEART can be applied not just to an entire system but also its individual elements. It stands for Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention and Task Success. To know more about this framework introduced by Google, please read further.
- Happiness – Happiness is the attribute that evaluates and measures the attitudes, behavior and emotions of the users or consumers. These points are collected by the means of user surveys, the net-promoter score as well as by using methods like perceived ease of use. These factors help to know whether or not users or consumers are happy and satisfied with the products or web systems and what their overall thought is regarding the same.
- Engagement – Engagement is the term that is used to refer to the overall involvement of consumers with the website or product in question. The engagement levels are measured through behavioral tools like depth of interaction for a given period of time, intensity of interactions as well as the frequency of involvement. A good example to describe engagement on a social networking site could be the number of visits to the site per day.
- Adoption – Adoption is the term that is used to describe how well or often is a new product, service or feature being adopted or utilized. It also measures how new consumers adopt to the service or product and when do they convert from being visitors to consumers. For example, adoption may measure the number of new user accounts created on an email website in a given period of time, say 7 days.
- Retention – Retention is the rate at which the consumers, users or customers who already exist for a business are returning to purchase more services or products. This can be understood as the number of users who continue to be customers of a company continuously for a given period of time. Most businesses focus on the retention rate besides concentrating on just the conversion rate because the number of users retained speaks volumes about the value of the product or service, effectiveness of the cost as well as efficiency of engagement efforts of the business. A good example of retention is the renewal rate for an antivirus program.
- Task success – Task success is an integral factor that basically takes into account the traditional behavioral metrics of UX, which include the effectiveness of a particular task, efficiency of a task as well as the error rate observed. Task success attribute is more suitable for the task-focused parts of a product or service such as upload flow or search. For example, the time taken to upload a photo or the success rate of search results could refer to be task success attributes.
Application of Google’s HEART framework to multiple levels
The HEART Framework, as mentioned above doesn’t necessarily have to be applied to an entire system but can also be valid for individual levels. As an example, in Gmail, the HEART framework can either be applied to the whole product in general or can also be utilized for some crucial features like archiving and labels, etc. A lot of people wonder why use the factors like retention and adoption when it is easy to calculate the total number of users or customers. Of course it is important to know the total number of consumers or customers but at the same time, when adoption and retention are calculated, one can differentiate between the new customers as well as those who are returning back to use a product or service. This helps to fathom the speed of growth of the user base.
The Google’s HEART framework is helpful in letting you make a decision regarding what features are to be added and which ones need to be eliminated. By measuring user experience based on H-E-A-R-T, one can fathom whether it is the engagement levels that need focus or is it the adoption that needs to be worked upon and so on.
Part #2 The Goals-Signals-Metrics Process
When the Google’s HEART framework is already utilized, how does one move ahead and apply and track the findings? Well, there obviously isn’t an automatic method that would do this task for you because the most useful metrics are mostly meant for a particular project or product. This is where the Goals-Signals-Metrics process comes into play. Let’s look into this metric process in detail:
- Goals – Rather than creating a long list of metrics that can be hard to list in a chronological order, it is better to come up with a small list of metrics that are useful. But to figure out this small list, one will need to start at a superior level and figure out the goals. This will help you to choose the metrics that can enable you to evaluate your progress on the road to success. However, it can be very difficult to articulate the goals of your project since every member of the team may have different ideas about it. For example, there may be different goals for the particular project as compared to goals for a particular feature.
- Signals – The next step within this metric is to map the already figured out goals to lower-level signals. You now need to figure out how the failure or the success of your goals will implement itself. For one particular goal, there may be a large number of signals which can be potentially very useful. In order to choose from those signals, you may need to conduct a proper research and analysis. Within this research, you may need to figure out which signal is the easiest to track, is the product aligned with the signal or can a product survey be deployed easily on a regular basis and so on. Also, the signal must be chosen in such a way that it should be sensitive to the various changes in the design.
- Metrics – After selection of the signals, they must be refined further into metrics. Metrics are the elements or items that you will be tracking over a given period of time in the A/B tests. When you come to this particular time, then the particulars will mainly depend upon the kind of infrastructure you have. But, here again, for a given signal, there can be many types of metrics possible and an analysis of data collected must be done to find out which metrics are the most suitable. By making use of percentages as well as averages, you will have to normalize the raw figures to come up with the more meaningful ones.
The process of Goals-Signals-Metrics should enable you to come up with a prioritization of the metrics so that you can use the ones that are most effective and important first and then use the lesser important ones later. Only use those metrics that are related to your personalized goals and avoid wasting time on the ones that require extra implementation efforts.
Which methods are you using for measuring your product and UX metrics? Did you use Google’s HEART framework? If you did, what experiences did you have with it?