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Data-Driven User Experience: Using Data To Make the Right Design Decisions

The vision of every product developer is to design products that inspire users. User-friendliness and the perceived user experience contribute significantly to customer satisfaction and are therefore important success factors that can make a subtle difference to the competition. But how do you measure usability? How do you evaluate a user's experience? And how can insights be gained to further increase customer satisfaction? Questions that used to be pondered through qualitative surveys or mere conjecture can now be answered with data thanks to digitalization. So let's start measuring the user experience with facts – rather than opinions.

22. April 2022
Actions (usually) speak louder than words  

Steve Krug defines usability in his book "Don't make me think" as follows:

"It means making sure something works well: that a person of average skill and experience can use the thing - be it a website, a toaster, or a revolving door - for its intended purpose without being hopelessly frustrated." 

Determining whether a product is user-friendly can be a challenge, however. For example, users themselves may not know exactly why they perceive a product as not user-friendly. Perhaps users struggle to articulate what exactly is bothering them in a process, or they simply do not want to admit that they have not understood something. A data-driven approach can help specialized data tracking tools provide direct insight into the behaviour of users on online platforms. In this way, users' needs, and problems can be identified. In this way, design decisions for an improved user experience can be made based on actions rather than just words. 

What are UX metrics? 

How do you measure abstract concepts like the customer experience or the understandability of a product and how can you compare them? UX metrics are measurement standards for assessing a product, process, or website's performance, quality, or efficiency. In contrast to well-known metrics from the fields of marketing or social media, UX metrics provide information about the way people interact with products and services. Experience shows that UX metrics can be divided along the two dimensions of "behaviour" and "attitude". Metrics that capture people's behaviour help explain what users do and how they use a product. Metrics that focus on people's attitudes, on the other hand, provide information about how users feel and what expectations they have of a product. Which metrics are ultimately the most appropriate to quantify user behaviour require careful definition? 

How do you define UX metrics?  

There are different approaches to defining UX metrics. At Ergonomen, we use the HEART framework, which was introduced by Kerry Rodden, Hilary Hutchinson, and Xin Fu at Google and is now very widely used. The HEART framework comprises five categories. The five categories that make up the HEART acronym are:  

  • Happiness: Within the Happiness category, the question of how satisfied customers are is addressed. Do customers enjoy using the product?  
  • Engagement: The engagement category looks at how intensively users engage with the product. How long does a user stay on the website? How often do they log into the customer portal?  
  • Adoption: Within the Adoption category, we look at the adoption of the product or the growth. How many new users have registered? How many Unique Users are on our website? 
  • Retention: The Retention category deals with the retention of users. When do users cancel the service? How often do users return to the website? How often do customers place orders?  
  • Task Success: The Task Success category is concerned with behaviour in relation to the user experience. Does a user reach their destination and if so, how efficiently? 

After we have covered the basics of the Heart framework, it is important to fill it with life. The best way to do this is to follow three steps:  

1. Identify the goal

Ideally, you start by identifying goals per category. This provides an opportunity to collect different ideas and create a common understanding of the goal.  

Example: A goal for the engagement category could be that users enjoy using an application and have fun with it. 

2. Define signals

The next step is to think about how user behaviour or attitudes indicate success or failure in relation to the goals. What signals indicate that the goal has been achieved? 

Example: If the goal is for users to enjoy and get pleasure from an app, this can be signalled by a long usage time of the app.  

3. Derive metrics 

The third step is to define metrics. These should be specific to your offering and your business. It is possible that metrics already exist in the company that can be consulted for better comparability.  

For example, the usage time of an application can be measured with metrics such as the length of the user session or the active time on an app. 

Putting UX metrics into practice 

So, you've identified the UX metrics that meet your goals, and you want to start using insights to achieve your business outcomes. When is the right time to start measuring UX metrics? And how do you go about it? What tools do we use to measure UX metrics? 

Measuring UX metrics for your product can provide valuable insights at different stages of the product lifecycle. We use different tools depending on the phase your product is in and the goal you are pursuing. Let's look at two examples.  

Let's say you have a corporate website that is visited by dozens of people every day to find out about your services and get in touch with you. It has been a while since you created the website, and you plan to redesign it soon. 

To find out which aspects of your website need improvement, you first need to know how visitors currently interact with your website. We can use tools that track user behaviour and provide insight into which parts of your website visitors are engaging with and which parts they may be overlooking or ignoring. We can even collect feedback directly from users or distribute surveys to them. 

This will help you discover problems on your website and decide where to focus your redesign efforts.  

Another example: Let's say you have a webshop. On your webshop, users can buy products, but also sign up for a newsletter or create wish lists that they can then share with other people. In order to improve the success rate for the actions mentioned, you want to subject your webshop to a usability test and derive suggestions for improvement from it.  

With the help of tools, we can give users specific tasks (e.g. "Buy product XYZ in this webshop") and collect UX metrics to find out if they can perform them successfully and if not, where problems occur on the way to the goal. The data comes from user sessions on your real website (although this is also possible with an online hosted prototype). Users take part in the test in their natural environment (e.g. home or office), and because they do this at their own pace and without a moderator to guide them through the tasks, we can collect data from a large number of users in a short time. If there are inclusion criteria for the participants, we can screen them for eligibility before referring them to the tasks. In addition, we collect suggestions for improvement from users or have them fill out a survey after they have completed the tasks to gain even more feedback.  

These results clearly show you what works and what doesn't in your webshop.  

Would you like to learn how data-driven UX can be applied in your case and how your company can benefit from it? Or would you like to know how we at Ergonomen have helped our clients to achieve more sales and (project) security? Then contact us! 

Get in touch.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Gian-Luca Gubler, MSc

Consultant

Gian-Luca Gubler holds a master's degree in psychology, specializing in cognitive science. After conducting research for his thesis at the Singapore-ETH Centre, he joined The Ergonomen, where he is responsible for usability, user-research and prototyping. He is an enthusiast of film and enjoys making music in his free time.

Ananya Pandya, MSc

Consultant

Ananya is a passionate creator that thrives on designing innovative experiences. Holding a master’s degree in People-Oriented Computing and Data Science and a bachelor's degree in computer science, he loves helping to simplify the complex, working on big problems, and collaborating within tightly-knit teams. In his free time, he enjoys travelling and exploring different cultures, playing sports, and doing outdoor activities like hiking or snowshoeing. He also loves cooking delicious Indian food.

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