A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post in which I discussed the challenges of persuading stakeholders to invest in a User Experience (UX) project. In that post, I highlighted Jared Spool’s approach, which involves shifting the conversation away from the typical emphasis on deliverables and timelines, and instead, focusing on UX outcomes. If you missed the opportunity to read that post or simply need a quick recap, you can find it here.
In this blog post, I want to delve deeper into the concept of UX outcomes, emphasizing that they are a vital starting point, but not the sole factor for ensuring the success of your project. Once you've successfully convinced your stakeholders that improving someone’s life is worth the investment, they will naturally seek a clear definition of "success" to gauge the return on their investment. Simultaneously, you'll require a set of metrics to track your project's progress, enabling you to make informed adjustments as needed.
Within this article, I want to share insights into the process of establishing these critical benchmarks, commonly referred to as UX success metrics and UX progress metrics in order to motivate your team, drive positive change and keep your stakeholders satisfied.
Let’s kick things off by defining what I consider to be UX success metrics. In my perspective, UX success metrics are specific and measurable metrics that help to understand if the project achieved the UX outcomes that your stakeholders committed to.
I see UX progress metrics as bearing a close resemblance to UX success metrics. However, the key distinction lies in their purpose. While UX success metrics define the ultimate project goals and outcomes, UX progress metrics indicate whether the project is on track or not.
Now that we have a shared understanding of these metrics' definitions, let’s focus on how to define those metrics.
The first important thing to notice is that our metrics should always align with our overarching goal. We don't employ metrics merely for the sake of measurement; rather, they serve as a means to demonstrate how our project is genuinely enhancing someone's life. This implies that in 99% of the cases, you can’t rely solely on conventional metrics like NPS, SUS, or CSAT to really illustrate the difference your project made.
Furthermore, if you want your team to achieve those success and progress metrics, it's imperative that your team is well-informed about what these metrics entail and is motivated to strive for them. In this regard, my recommendation is to involve your team as extensively as possible in the process of defining these metrics.
To ensure that these metrics are motivating, it‘s crucial to make them challenging, yet reachable. Avoid playing it too safe: instead, aim for ambitious targets. Doing so not only fosters a sense of accomplishment and pride within your team but also bolsters your case when persuading stakeholders to invest in the project.
If you are in the process of defining progress metrics, it's important to steer clear of the misconception that progress will unfold in a strictly linear fashion. Many of us are familiar with the renowned 80-20 percent rule, which underscores that the last 20% of the work often requires a disproportionate amount of time and effort. Therefore, you will need to take that rule into account to ensure that you have sufficient time to complete the last 20% of the work.
Oh, and one last thing! When it comes to defining metrics, striking the right balance between precision and ease of measurement is a crucial decision. On the one hand, you aim for metrics that are highly precise, offering fine-grained insights that showcase the value of your project. On the other hand, you also don't want to waste an excessive amount of time and resources into collecting and analyzing these metrics.
This is a challenge I still struggle with when defining these metrics. (all tips and tricks welcome 🙏) In this context, my primary advice would be to engage your stakeholders actively. Collaborate with them to find the balance between the level of precision they require and the investment that is realistic for tracking these metrics.
In summary, embarking on a successful project involves more than just defining UX outcomes; it also entails the creation of UX success and progress metrics. To maintain team motivation and gain stakeholder confidence, the key is: to select metrics that go beyond the conventional, engage the project team in this process, strike a balance between challenging but attainable metrics and acknowledge the potential for non-linear progress.