Even though most teams understand they need to prove the value of their work, they miss the window of opportunity to define and gather the right success metrics from the start.

Strategy vs. Scrambling

Your project team wants—and even needs—to prove to higher-ups that your UX efforts are returning value and are worth a continued investment. Steering committees, boards, and other decision makers will ask about your lead generation, sales, KPIs, and/or general ROI.

But, likely, you don’t know where to even begin measuring UX success. When the project is complete and it comes time to convince higher-ups of your project’s positive impact on the organization’s bottom line, you find yourself scrambling to find anything concrete to support the value you know your hard work has provided.

You Don’t Have to Scramble

Sound familiar? It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s as simple as this: Next project, take time at the very beginning to ask yourself and your team the following questions. They will help you identify key metrics to measure, set a baseline measurement to compare with later, and easily communicate the success of your UX efforts. And—a win for your sanity—you will never be caught scrambling to come up with UX metrics again.

Questions to Help You Understand the Big Picture

1. What are you hoping to accomplish with this project?
Be specific! Set goals based on your project’s must-haves—if these things don’t happen, your project has failed or has at least fallen short. Be sure your success measures couldn’t apply to just any old digital undertaking. They must be so specific that they could never apply to another project. That means “create a better digital product!” is never a good enough answer.

2. What do decision makers want to see?
You know the people you report to and what they need in order to be convinced that your team’s investment in time and effort was worthwhile. If you know they will expect certain data, set yourself up to be able to provide it to them. That might mean creating surveys, getting a baseline read on landing page visits, asking for call center logs, or whatever it is that answers the questions you know you will be asked.

If no one has asked you to show any specific metrics, consider what your company values in relation to its bottom line or reputation. Then, find a way to monitor areas where your digital experience impacts or speaks to those organizational values.

3. What are the biggest issues you are trying to solve with your product?
This is your low-hanging metric fruit. Focus on what you know will be impressive based on what needs the most attention. Does your site have thousands of pages when you know about 90 or so would do? Then it’s easy—count the number of pages now so later you can count the significantly smaller number after your work is done. Look for opportunities like these that offer big wins for relatively low effort.

4. Do the traditional metrics make sense?
People (and organizations) like to focus on things like clicks, views, traffic, time on a page, bounce rate, and more. But do those metrics correspond to value for your specific digital product and how people use it?

What if a long average time spent on a page means people are confused by your instructions? Or what if the bounce rate for a landing page is high because people got what they needed quickly and then left? These standard analytics can still be useful, but don’t assume they are automatically the right answer just because everyone else is using them.

5. What metrics are crucial to your project’s specific needs?
The unique goals and objectives you set for your project (see question 1) might bring to light certain metrics you may not think to measure for other projects. Maybe you have a specific brochure that your users must download to complete a key task. Note that brochure’s downloads before launch and track what happens after your work goes live. Or maybe your call center is overrun with questions about an issue that the user-friendly version of your site or app will address. Get the number of calls (and the type of questions asked during those calls) and measure again after you address the problem.

6. What qualitative measures might help you?
Not every UX measurement needs to (or can) have a number assigned to it. Consider what value you can show when you take the focus off of numbers and stats. Direct quotes from users, recognition from others in your industry, improvements in the user journey or flow, quality of calls to your help desk or customer support team—all of these can prove the success of your UX work without relying on numbers.

Measuring Creates Momentum

When you start measuring success from the beginning of your project, you’ll learn how to spot the opportunities for remeasurement. Trust us, you’ll blow your decision makers’ minds without needing to scramble for numbers again. And after a while, you won’t need our list anymore to get you started. You’ll have your own ideas and questions to guide you toward the right UX metrics for any project.

A casserole dish with bacon, an over-easy egg, and a trail of raisins designed to look like different types of graphs. A cat looks in the dish.
Truematterian Trudy was impressed by our edible metrics.

About truematter

Our team has been doing the real work of user experience since the earliest days of the commercial web. We’re out to make your digital products a whole lot better.

And that includes dazzling decision makers with the metrics they never even knew they wanted.

Author: @JessAndAmen
Graphic: @djosephmachado