Measuring the Impact of User Experience

Most of us work in an organization where measurable outcomes matter in allocating headcount and operating and capital budgets. Don’t sideline your UX practice as a nice-to-have by not measuring your outcomes.

The main challenge, as I see it, is that many UX practitioners don’t know how to quantify the benefits of their work, or don’t think they need to, or in true Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist fashion:

  1. Have been told it’s impossible to measure.
  2. Believe that they would alienate colleagues or UX peers by pursuing a path to create UX measurements.
  3. Fear finding out that there is no impact to UX from their design work.
  4. Fear succeeding beyond their wildest dreams, and then not having budget or headcount to meet the demand for their services.

If UX practitioners did quantify the benefits for users, they’d be better armed to fight for the features that matter, and let go of the ones that don’t.

For the UX practitioners who don’t even see the need to justify the benefits of good design, we need to have a tough conversation about the allocation of scarce resources and cost-benefit analysis. I’m an economist as well as a UX practitioner. I can say stuff like that.

Think broadly about measuring the benefit of user experience. Go beyond revenues and the costs of development and maintenance:

Flows or stories, not interactions. Is quantifying the benefits of a simple interaction relevant? Not usually. You need to ladder up to a flow or feature. That is, for example, look at what percentage of customers complete a registration or purchase process and what contribution good UX makes to that. Quantifying the benefit of completing an individual form field is not the place to start.

Relatives, not absolutes. Often, the direct dollar value of the improvements is not calculable. A brand-appropriate visual design with the right copy is highly valuable but without directly attributable revenue or savings. Instead, using your analytics package (and making fast friends with your data analysts if you haven’t already done so), measure which screens get the most user traffic and prioritize improvements to them higher. The purpose of a prioritization list is to discard the work that provides less value. You’re just looking for a cut off point in the feature list.

Measurable organizational goals, not necessarily dollars. Goals can be measured in market awareness, new customers, NPS, time saved. You’re looking for measures that align with corporate goals. No doubt that revenue and costs are in there, but save using those measures of UX success for clearly traceable cases like online transaction funnels (generating revenue), and online support chat. By contrast, it can be quite a task to prove that your online support content improvements have reduced calls to the call centre; you’d be better showing more successful path completions on the Help website instead.

Don’t forget to include the data capture for measurement in your user story or functional requirement. Don’t let it sit unanchored in the “Reporting” requirements section. Create a habit of including measures in every flow to reinforce the connection between  the story and the impact on customers and the business.


One thought on “Measuring the Impact of User Experience

  1. Pingback: Mea Culpa; Learn From My Mistakes | Understanding Clients

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