Success Metrics (was: Visual aspects of interaction design...)

30 Apr 2004 - 1:12am
10 years ago
1 reply
942 reads
Frank Ramirez
2004

> After all, aren't we all after better products? Better from both a
usable and visual perspective?

Yes, most of us are after better products from a usability and visual
design perspective. However, don't you think that all designs should be
evaluated based on unique, pre-identified success metrics?

For example, an interactive design submitted to Comm Arts is probably
going to have success metrics skewed toward innovation in the visual
design realm. In that realm, text on gifs *could* be evaluated as good
design if extensibility, download time, etc. are not a priority. Isn't
that ok? You might compare it with the topic of comfort in fashion
design.

Another example is this. The applications that I work on (large
ecommerce sites and enterprise apps) have success metrics identified by
cross-functional teams. The priority is given to the movement of
business levers (as described in eBay's IA Summit talk mentioned earlier
by LukeW). The metrics might be along the lines of:

1. increasing conversion rate by [x]%
2. increasing the number of registered users by [n]
3. integrate this and that feature
4. launch in Q3

You'll notice that there are no usability metrics in there. No visual
design coolness. I wish there were (was?), but c'est la vie.

Our challenge is to move some usability and visual design concerns onto
the list of success metrics. Examples might include:

5. [n]% of users in the lab can successfully complete an order without
calling customer service
6. [n]% of users in [some kinda study] feel that our visual design is
more [engaging] than [competitor]
*Note: Some people on this list can probably provide better examples.

Getting these types of concerns added to the list can be achieved in a
couple of ways:

1. By executive decree (This is rare now, but was more common 4 yrs ago)
2. By convincing the team that these metrics will move business levers
(ie: conversion rate, support cost)

BTW, thanks to everyone who contributes and posts to this list!

Frank Ramirez

---
Principal Interaction Designer
Ramirez Design, LLC

www.ramirezdesign.com

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com] On Behalf Of Todd R.Warfel
Sent: Thursday, April 29, 2004 6:29 PM
To: Peter Merholz
Cc: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Visual aspects of interaction design -
combative,dismissive, and hostile

On Apr 29, 2004, at 7:02 PM, Peter Merholz wrote:

Not that there aren't plenty of visual stylists who are both ignorant
and dismissive of usability but I hardly find them representative of the
profession.

[...]
Maybe not "representative," but definitely out there _en masse_. I just
judged an interaction design show in Minneapolis <URL:
http://www.aigaminn.org/exhibita/ >, and it was clear that the *bulk* of
the entries were made by stylists. And when you look at the winners of
most interaction design annuals (Comm Arts or Print), again, stylists.

I was one of the reviewers for Exhibit A and while there was some
excellent visual design (style), many of the 60+ entries suffered from
moderate to severe usability issues, lack of consideration for the user,
or were just not that engaging. However, as you can see from the
selected showcase pieces, there were some that showed promising visual
design, usability, and interaction. Sadly, the former tends to be the
representative of the profession when looking at the industry standard
"showcases" like Comm Arts, How, Print, etc. Even when Cre at teOnline was
in existence, this seemed to be the case - at least they dedicated an
issue to usability that showcased pieces that were visually pleasing and
usable.

Interestingly enough, in the case of Exhibit A, I found the pieces that
coupled a more usable and visually pleasing design to be more effective
and engaging (go figure) - they were few and far between. And then there
were those that took over the browser window, resizing it to full size
(1280x854) and then launched a small roughly 400x300 window for the
content - what are you thinking? It's bad enough you take over the
window, but then launch a considerably smaller window automatically with
content that used small pixelated text with low contrast?

I think those of us in this group are privileged to know some designers
that actually know, appreciate, and can even institute visually
stimulating and usable designs. However, I don't think that these types
are representative of the profession yet, not in the majority anyway. I
do look forward to the day that either they are, or usability
professionals and designers (interaction and visual) work in tandem more
often.

After all, aren't we all after better products? Better from both a
usable and visual perspective?

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

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Comments

30 Apr 2004 - 6:43am
Todd Warfel
2003

First, excellent points, Frank.

On Apr 30, 2004, at 2:12 AM, Frank Ramirez wrote:

> Yes, most of us are after better products from a usability and visual
> design perspective.  However, don't you think that all designs should
> be evaluated based on unique, pre-identified success metrics?

Absolutely. Each time we work on a product, we identify success metrics
up-front. Typically, these success metrics are based on the marriage of
business objectives and user goals.

> [...] The metrics might be along the lines of:
>  
> 1. increasing conversion rate by [x]%
> 2. increasing the number of registered users by [n]
> 3. integrate this and that feature
> 4. launch in Q3

And yet numbers 1 and 2 are deeply tied to usability and visual design.
So, while they might not have direct usability statements, increasing
usability and having a visual design that is engaging/pleasing will
help increase conversion rates, decrease acquisition costs, and
increase user registration (along with some kind of payoff for
registering).

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

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