How Do You Measure the Success (or Failure) of Your UX Design?

Charles Costa

Wizard of Oz

Have you ever been in the situation where you’re getting plenty of traffic but not getting enough conversions?

In most cases that’s a huge red flag that you need to reevaluate your UX design. Unfortunately, unlike most marketing metrics, you can’t simply look at a design and determine what does and doesn’t work.

Instead, by calculating the ratios of select indicators, you’ll be able to get an idea of your design effectiveness. Below are just a few indicators which can simplify your UX efforts.

Before getting started, remember that for these projects you can’t just gather information blindly. Remember that data is only helpful if it is relevant to the project.

Cart Abandonment

Abandoned cart in a park

Online checkout design is one of the biggest challenges for web development professionals because it’s the backbone of many online businesses. The Baymard Institute puts the average cart abandonment rate at 68.63% – an amount which translates to nearly $4 trillion a year in lost revenue.

One of the biggest reasons for cart abandonment is the length and complexity of the checkout process. Although it’s tempting to leverage upsells and collect user information during the checkout process, remember that the extra steps can cost you money.

If you absolutely need a lengthy checkout process, you should also consider offering an express checkout where customers can immediately make their purchase. Another option to boost your conversions is to run email campaigns to remind users of their abandoned carts. From there, customers can make a purchase, save the item(s) for later, or remove the items from their cart.

Completion Rate

One of the best ways for UX professionals to measure design effectiveness is by calculating the completion rate. In a nutshell, you can calculate this by taking the total number of tasks completed successfully and dividing it by the total number of tasks. Multiply that by 100 and you’ll have the effectiveness percentage. Although the ideal score is 100%, a more practical goal would be around 75% depending on your resources and objectives.

External Metrics

In order to have a complete understanding of your design effectiveness, you’ll also want to consider non-technical metrics such as inbound calls, online vs offline office visits, and customer support performance.

For example, if you release a new product and support teams are constantly answering questions on basic matters, you should consider whether there’s a simpler way to perform the tasks. You’ll need to work alongside sales, support, and marketing teams to ensure that you’re building the best product that works for everyone involved.

In other cases, maybe you’re having success collecting emails, but you need more calls. You’ll want to examine the placement of your phone numbers and check the effectiveness of the calls to action. Finally, if you’re not getting enough in-store traffic, the messaging on your website might need adjustment.

UX Measurement Industry Standards

System Usability Scale

Although ratios and calculations are important, there are times where you need to consider subjective insights. This is where the system usability scale (SUS) comes into play. It’s a ten item questionnaire which happens to be the industry standard for UX professionals gathering subjective information.

The primary benefits of the system are that they’re easy to administer and scale, can be used on small sample sizes, and are statistically valid. Before you use the SUS on your projects, you should note that the scoring system is complex (scores need to be normalized for best results) and it’s not intended to diagnose problems.

Google HEART Framework

Tin man (as Google) single 'If I only had a heart"

To help make UX design a bit easier, Google also has created their own industry standard, the HEART framework, which is short for:

  • Happiness: Measure of user attitudes (e.g. satisfaction, ease of use).

  • Engagement: Level of user involvement, typically measured by the frequency of an action or the depth of interaction.

  • Adoption: Number of new users when a product or feature comes out.

  • Retention: Rate at which existing users are returning. Also known as “churn,” it’s a percentage of users who start using the service and remain active within a given period of time.

  • Task success: Traditional metrics such as search result success, time to upload a photo, profile creation

These aspects can be mixed and matched based on specific project needs.

Getting started

Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed by these details. As mentioned earlier, these tips aren’t intended to replace the fundamentals of user experience design. It’s just another tool to help you tackle those tough problems which slip through the cracks.

Even if you don’t use the metrics often, it’s good to have a basic idea so you’re able to work more efficiently with your colleagues.

Of course, none of this is a substitute for traditional user interviews, but the information can help shape your agenda when you hold those meetings.