Simplifying UX Design Metrics for Product Managers

Renuka Savant | 7 min read

“Usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not about technology.” – Steve Krug

So here’s an enlightening lesson upfront – usability is all about the users and not the technology. As a product manager, the aim is always to build products and experiences that fulfill business goals with utmost ease and satisfaction to the users. However, how can this aim be achieved? It’s simple – by measuring the user experience of the product.

For those wondering why do we need metrics, the answer is that the user experience or usability of a product can be quantified and measured by applying product metrics that matter. The International Organization for Standardization defines usability as “the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specific goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.”

In this definition, the goals refer to the objectives that the said product should help users achieve, whereas the context of use refers to the use cases of the product. Thus, a product’s success can be measured by how well it fares on usability metrics.

Every time a project or sprint is completed, the obvious next step is measuring its user experience. Unlocking the RoI of UX is crucial to delivering the right experiences to the users and ensuring that the product is achieving its intended goals. With that in mind, here are a few simple UX design metrics to help you gain a footing in measuring the impact of your UX exercises.

5 UX design metrics that matter

When there is an institutional focus on experience design and design thinking, it helps in the creation of goal-focused and trustworthy technology along with increased adoption and user productivity, all of which have a direct correlation with business revenue. Product managers play a key role in formulating the product strategy and roadmap. They are in charge of the cross-functional team that is involved in the product’s design, development, and launch. It goes without saying that PMs hold the responsibility of ensuring optimal product performance and familiarizing themselves with product success metrics is the first step.

1. Task accomplishment rate

Task accomplishment or task success rate is the most basic and easily understood among UX design metrics. It calculates the percentage of participants that successfully accomplish a set task and helps designers identify user experience issues, particularly for defined tasks that have a clear beginning and end point. To measure task success rates accurately, they need to be aligned with clearly defined goals. The formula applied to measure task accomplishment rate is:

Number of successful attempts/ Total number of attempts = Task accomplishment rate

Examples of tasks that can be included in this ux design metrics include onboarding processes, resolving a complaint ticket, creating the right product bundle for customers, etc. One important aspect to keep in mind when calculating the success rate is that it does not reveal how well the users perform tasks or the reasons why they fail them. However, what it does do is that it lets UX designers see where users are having trouble, such as at confusing junctions, or when too much effort is required, or when the next step isn’t clear. A low task accomplishment rate while measuring UX is an indication of the need to redesign that aspect of the workflow.

2. Task completion time

Task completion differs from task success rate in the sense that it measures the amount of time taken for the user to complete a task. Owing to a combination of human and technological factors, different users tend to have different completion times for the same task. The most accepted convention for this metric is that the lesser the time a user spends on a task, the better the UX.

There are several ways to determine task completion rate, which depend on the evaluation method used and the type of project. Some examples include –

  • The average completion rate accounts for the users who actually complete the task.
  • The mean time to failure rate measures the average amount of time that it takes users to give up or complete it incorrectly.
  • The average time on task rate refers to the average time that users spend on a task.

Additionally, the average length of task completion on the first attempt and the average length of task completion on repeat attempts can be used to gain specific data on how users actually use the product, especially in the case of enterprise systems where users have to complete repetitive tasks frequently. The task completion time metric is a crucial factor in determining the usability of a product.

3. Feature usage rate

Among the metrics to measure user experience, the feature usage rate helps gauge the long-term utility of a product. It reveals how to measure user adoption by calculating the percentage of users who perform a desired action. The ‘desired action’ in this case may refer to anything from seeking a translation of a transcript in an online consultation or seeking patient history in an EHR. Note that in order to measure the feature usage rate of a product accurately, there must be a clear definition of what actions and activity levels constitute use.

So for example, if an EHR has the feature to help providers translate the transcript of an online consultation, the feature usage rate will reveal if they’re actually using it and if it is a useful feature to have. By studying the usage of the designated actions, UX designers are able to determine the usability of a particular feature and actions to be taken on it.

4. Error Rate

Error rate is an important part of user behavior metrics which calculates the percentage of errors made by users. The formula to calculate it is:

Number of attempts made/ Number of errors = Error rate

A high error is a clear indication of usability issues. Tracking the error rate is important as it helps answer questions such as:

  • Is there a need to provide a clearer explanation for the task?
  • Is the interface too complex?
  • Are there ways to simplify, restrict, or prevent common errors from occurring?

Errors are a serious barrier to product success, which makes this metric one of the most important on the list. It reveals the chinks in the product’s armor and helps in making the right design decisions. For example, frequent mistakes in a form reveal that the fields aren’t explaining the right way to fill it up and that corrective action needs to be taken.

5. Heuristic report

Heuristics are a part of UX analytics that may not seem like a metric in the sense of the definition, but it is an important step to ensure that your product rates high on usability. Heuristics are based on predefined usability principles, standards, and conventions that have been tested and established over time.

Some criteria applied in a heuristic evaluation include –

  • Checking if users are in control – if they can understand system status easily or can rectify erroneous actions.
  • Make use of real-world jargon and ensure that the content is understood easily.
  • Being consistent with words, icons, layouts, etc.

Heuristics evaluators systematically determine a product’s usability by going through a checklist of criteria to find flaws in the design. These flaws are then rated as per their severity and impact on the user experience so that they can be rectified accordingly.

With user experience permeating all aspects of the business, the most important metrics for product managers to learn are UX metrics. PMs have to be in the know of understanding all there is to know about providing the best experiences to their users. While this was a roundup of the basics of software product metrics examples, there’s more to it – how do you check if your user experience is working? Keeping the UX in check is a good practice that helps ensure that your product is offering the right services in the intended manner to your consumers. Hope this introduction to UX metrics has been helpful, do let us know in the comments below.

More Resources

5 Things Product Managers Can Learn From User Psychology

How to Make Your Organization UX-friendly

4 Facts a Product Manager Needs to Know About UX Design

About Author:

Sr. Content Writer at Koru UX Design, Renuka loves to write, discuss, research, and read up on the latest in user experience design. When she’s not doing that, she spends her days watching crime thrillers and sports.

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