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How do I measure experience?

Sean Owner 24th May, 2017

It has never been easier to track online interactions and behaviour of users through analytics such as unique visitors, exit pages, basket size, conversion rates, page impressions and bounce rates. This information lends itself well to establishing targets and tracking performance against these Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). However, it typically doesn’t deliver any insight into the “why” behind the “what”.

As the imperative of delivering a positive user experience has grown, there is an increasing interest in measuring this experience, with the aim of tapping into the “why”, to augment and inform understanding of users’ behavior. The challenge faced by many teams is identifying and operationalising the best experience metric.  Don’t fear! The following questions will help you make an informed decision when choosing the right experience metric(s).

1. What do you want to measure?
There are so many options available to you. When pondering this question, it is probably best to consider experience metrics as falling into three broad categories. First are the group of metrics that are related to how well your experience is working. This tends to be related to task completion, error rates and questionnaires like the System Usability Scale (SUS). The second category is related to how your user feels about their experience, which can be independent of successful task completion. There are a number of options available to capture this information ranging from biometric tools that translate facial expressions or voice intonation into emotions, to bespoke questionnaires that tap into how well the user feels their experience aligns with your brand values. The third category is tapping into standard customer experience metrics such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) that your organisation may already be capturing. Whilst the NPS and CSAT were not designed as UX metrics, it is possible to view them in relation to the online experience.

2. Why is it important?
Just as your choice of analytics to employ as KPIs is influenced by the nature of your product, the choice of an experience metric should be influenced by what your organisation values. Some level of investment will always be required to capture experience metrics, it would be wasteful to choose something that cannot be related to how your organisation measures success. The maturity of your UX team, or partners, are also worthy of consideration. If UX maturity is low, it is probably best to focus attention on metrics that tell you if the experience works and why. Conversely where UX maturity is high, you might focus on metrics related to how the experience makes users feel. Finally, you also need to be confident that the metric(s) you choose will improve understanding of your users’ experience and in turn provide the insight needed to make change.

3. How will you capture it?
Once you have an idea what you want to measure and why it is important, you need to consider how you are going to capture it. There are two elements to this consideration. First, are you going to be able to make use of an established metric or do you need to put some effort into creating a bespoke metric? The latter approach should not scare you off, choosing the right metric should always take preference over the easy one. Second, what mechanism will you put in place to capture the metric? Will you commission a single round of user research or will you establish an ongoing program of research where you capture data regularly? Will you capture the metric qualitatively, quantitatively or employ a combination of both? Whether you choose qualitative or quantitative data, the most important thing is that you commit to capturing the metric periodically, permitting you to track it over time and assess the efficacy of any changes you make to the experience.

4. What will you do with it?
It is one thing to capture and collate information, but it is another to know how to analyse it, interpret meaning and translate that into decisions. Do you have the capability to make effective use of the data you are intending to capture? If you need to influence others in order to effect change, reflect upon what data is most likely to help you achieve this goal, and the best way to communicate what this data means for your organisation.

There is a lot to consider within those four simple questions, but thinking your way through them will ensure you establish a good foundation for your experience metric. Of course, U1 Group are always happy to discuss the choice of the experience metric that will work best for your team, we’d love to hear from you if you have any questions.

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About The Author

Sean Owner

Sean joined U1 Group back in 2010 as a Senior Consultant and since then his role has evolved going on to become Managing Director and now Owner of the business. Sean has been involved in experience research and strategy for over 20 years. With a background in Psychology and a keen interest in technology, Sean is passionate about the use of research to inform experience design decisions. He firmly believes that the best experiences are those which recognise the human that resides at the centre of all interactions.

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