User experience is important; we know that as UX professionals but how do we communicate the benefits to the people who pay for our services? The easiest way is to develop metrics that can provide indications that our work is offering benefits to the organization we work for. So what kinds of metrics might we want to use? This week, we’ll be looking at some common metrics and examining their usefulness in communicating our value to those holding the purse strings.
Singing From the Same Hymn Sheet
Developing metrics is important because it allows for straightforward communication with stakeholders and more importantly, it allows for communication in a single language, numbers, that is clear, direct and (in some cases) more difficult to manipulate than words alone.
The single critical factor about your choice of metrics is that they must be relevant to the business as opposed to relevant just to you. That means you’re not going to report on the number of users you’ve spoken to or the volumes of prototypes created in any given period; these may be important metrics in that they allow you to decide whether your work is on track but to a Chief Finance Officer – they’re near irrelevant.
Author/Copyright holder: John Klossner. Copyright terms and licence: All rights reserved Img source
So the first two types of metric should be absolute and as clear as can be to everyone involved with the project as to their value:
- Increases in profits and/or turnover.If your work is bringing in cash – it’s pretty clear how that benefits the business isn’t it? There’s no better moment than announcing that the company’s investment of $100,000 in UX Design has resulted in an uptick in profits of $1 million. More money is always a good thing.
- Decreases in costs. The flip side of the increased money in the door is a decrease in costs. If you can halve your costs and maintain your current sales volumes; there’ll be more cash in the register without even having to look farther afield. Don’t become obsessed with cost cutting; in general it’s better to invest in better products than to eat away at the capacity to deliver those products. But do be able to point to the big ticket items where you’ve eliminated waste or made a major change in sourcing arrangements, etc.
The final set of metrics tend to be less tangible and while they won’t necessarily impress the Chief Finance Officer they may impress other stakeholders.
- Numbers that relate directly to that stakeholder’s interests. This might be, in the case of customer services for example, the number of retained customers at the renewal point. It might be reports of fewer care calls received. These metrics will generally be easiest to define if you start talking to stakeholders early and find out what matters to them. If your work fixes some (or all) of their problems they may offer support for your work even when there are no firm cash benefits.
Tomorrow we will start to examine some specific metrics that might help you measure some of the above. See you then!