Better UX Metrics

By NATHAN KINCH

This blog is for designers, marketers, product managers, strategist, engineers and anyone else working on products and services. It should help us start or continue a discussion about how we can define better metrics. Better metrics can help us design more (ethical) socially preferable services. This process can help us start #MakingBetterTogether.

Where are we today?

The good news is, lots of people and institutions are questioning the metrics we optimise for. But, with that said, most products are still designed with business heavy metrics in focus.

Let me provide a distinct example. Most organisations optimise sign up flows to be super fast and easy. This isn’t as simple as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but there is a direct cost of optimising for a fast and easy sign up process. 

When people sign up for services today, they frequently feel disempowered and apathetic. They don’t feel like they have choice. They exhibit the Agreement Bypass Bias, not because they’re executing a super rationale decision making process, but because it’s the only thing they can realistically do.

This can be different. Here’s how. And it’s just one example of how optimising for business metrics that make absolute ‘commercial sense’ comes at a cost.

Have a think about it. What metrics are you optimising for that come at a cost? Add a comment with your answer.

Where do we want to be?

We’ve long argued that technologies should ‘augment us’. Not replace us. Not lock us on. Not control us. They should help us spend more time truly experiencing life’s most meaningful moments. A big part of this is about helping people experience more of life through their five senses. Which, in many cases, might mean you’re optimising for time away from screen rather than time on it.

So, in the future (something we must progress towards), we reckon products and services should have completely different metrics tied to them. Products and services should be optimised for individual and collective wellbeing.

If you wanna start diving deeper into this, here’s a great place to start.

What should we start doing right now?

One of the easiest and most immediate things you can do is an audit of your UX and related product metrics. This should be pretty easy. Basically you:

  1. Pull all of your existing metrics into one place. A spread sheet will work wonders
  2. Define a bunch of criteria for each metric. Consider things like current impact, desired impact, gap between current and desired etc. 
  3. Frame some hypotheses about how the metrics could evolve or change completely
  4. Socialise what you’ve done to get the whole team excited about what you have the opportunity to do. Better yet, make the whole thing a team exercise

Out of this very simple exercise will come a basic backlog of tiny ethical actions. Prioritise them. Then act on the first one.

This is your starting point.

If you want to dive deeper into the specific step by step process or the types of criteria we recommend, add some details in the comment below.

Once you’ve got some momentum, you can start doing more robust mapping exercises that break down the micro interactions of your end to end service experience. For each of these actions you can assess the impact on wellbeing determinants or any other new metric you’ve decided to focus in on.

This activity will give you a seriously detailed overview of how you can optimise your service to deliver more socially preferable outcomes.

Share your progress

There are so many stories out there about products and services that fall way short of social preferable. These can be useful as they draw our attention and help us identify the types of things we really don’t want to do. But, they’re not enough. We need more good stories. We need verifiable demonstrations of how product design and development workflows are changing. We need stories about how these workflows are producing better outputs. We need more stories about how these outputs are leading to better outcomes.

So, if you decide that it’s time to shift things up and define better metics, document at least some of the process. Then share it. We could all use some good news and inspiration to support ur #MakingBetterTogether journey.

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