A major but often overlooked part of project planning is measurement. Often, we talk about our goals and use the word success, but we rarely write down what we will actually do to: a) measure our progress, b) revisit, and c) adjust the measurements themselves. I think as a whole, the industry is improving on revisiting our designs and doing more planning for user-center goals than before, but keeping our eye on how we are going to continually meet these goals can sometimes be hard. It can be a challenge to figure out what to measure and how, but even harder to convince those we work to spend time on these discussions. The challenge becomes multiplied when you add in emotions that aren’t measured in numbers.
There isn’t one best way to measure the fluid and emotional experiences created in user centered design, but there are a few ideas floating around. One of the challenges is the need for flexibility per project, in addition to measuring and revisiting designs based on hard-to-measure perceptions. Historically, many large scale web applications used metrics like PULSE (Page views, Uptime, Latency, Seven-day active users, and Earnings). Many companies found the use of these helpful, but still missing some more “soft” measurements. So, when Google wanted to create more meaningful metrics, they created the HEART framework.
HEART Framework Categories:
- Task Success
After defining what goals you have for these categories, you then define signals and metrics to measure them. I’ll explain further.
One of the reasons I like their framework is because it can be complimentary to many other performance indicators that are traditionally used, including PULSE. The framework provides a discussion point which is often missing in the rush to gather quantitative data for pretty charts. Quantitative data can be gathered, organized and distilled in many ways, but how it’s used is different for every team and project. This framework allows discussion to take place and not only plan and design accordingly, but ensure that everyone involved is on the same page. The discussion itself is part of driving home the user centered perspective and can output immeasurable alignment and focus. Even if you work on a team that is just beginning work on a new process of metrics, the focus and clarity you gain will be extremely valuable for planning.
Another thing I really like about this framework is its flexibility. You only need to use what makes sense in your project. So for example, if you only find the Happiness and the Adoption appropriate in your project goals, then you only need to use those two categories.
Once you define what goals (examples: engage, attract, discover, etc) will be paramount to your success, it’s time to define signals. This is kind of the glue that holds together intention and action. It can be a challenging task to figure out the best ways to know if each goal is being met, but it will result in metrics you can actually use. These metrics will still tie back to these soft and often hard-to-measure emotions.
The rise of user research into common practice (less scientific and more iterative and human in nature) has prompted designers to possess a deeper understanding of design goals. In order to create effectively, these discussions must be had by all involved. More importantly, they must be revisited on a regular basis.