workbook with some user experience ideas sketched out
PHOTO: José Alejandro Cuffia

Brands want their customers to have the best user experience (UX) possible. But how can you be sure that your UX approach is the right one and that your customers are happy?

UX design customer metrics can help you quantify the user experience and act as a guide as you work toward improvements.

What Is UX Design?

According to Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group, user experience "encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services and its products."

UX design is separate from usability, although the two are related. Usability is one quality metric focused on whether a system is efficient and easy to learn. User experience is a broader measure of how users interact with a design and whether the experience delivers what they're looking for. UX design is the process used by design teams to give end-users a meaningful and relevant experience.

Some people use UX design and user interface (UI) design interchangeably. However, each has its own unique focus. UX design covers the customer journey as people interact with an app or product. UI design focuses on the nuts and bolts of the buttons, menus or anything else the user will interact with.

Some overlap exists between the two design systems, as having a clear and functional user interface is essential to offering a pleasant user experience. However, the skills and focus are different, and UX design customer metrics measure more than the functionality of the UI.

Pamela Pavliscak, founder of Change Sciences, described metrics as "the signals that show whether your UX strategy is working. Using metrics is key to tracking changes over time, benchmarking against iterations of your own site or application or those of competitors and setting targets."

Related Article: Are UX and CX One and the Same?

Why Should You Measure UX?

Kayode Osinusi, a UX designer, explained the importance of measuring the user experience, writing, "When products aren't satisfying or they make it hard to accomplish goals, users look elsewhere. The only way we can know if we're really solving design problems (and not causing them) is to test the usability of the products we create."

To measure and refine this usability, according to Osinusi, brands should turn to metrics.

The Difference Between UX Metrics and KPIs

Metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) are critical for analyzing your business's performance. But they're two separate things, so it's essential to know their differences and what they measure.

KPIs are clearly measurable things such as average order value (AOV) or return on ad spend (RoAS). This information is expressed as simple numbers and provide valuable insights into the business side of your operation.

UX metrics, on the other hand, are harder to measure since they're focused on the subjective issue of how your users interact with your product or service. They're usually tracked over several months through customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys or assessed through customer loyalty or engagement measures.

KPIs and metrics are both important and most effective when used together.

Things to Consider When Planning Your UX Design

People tend to think of software and websites when they think of UX design, but physical products also have a user experience. When designing a product, the way the user interacts with it should be one of your primary concerns.

For a physical product, that means considering the size, weight and durability. The product should be large enough for the user to hold and manipulate easily but not so big (or heavy) as to be unwieldy. It should be easy to use, and the user shouldn't worry about damaging it during day-to-day use.

For digital products, similar considerations apply. The navigation path through the software should be clear and simple. There shouldn't be any "dark patterns" or confusing interactions that might frustrate users. The user interface should be easy to see with buttons or menus that are big enough for the user to interact with.

Steven Hoober, president of 4ourth Mobile, described the importance of considering how users interact with smartphones when designing a mobile app. He noted, "On today's smartphones, almost the entire front surface is a screen. Users need to be able to see the whole screen, and may also need to touch any part of it to provide input."

Choosing the Best Metrics to Quantify User Experience

When measuring UX design customer metrics, you'll find yourself using a mix of qualitative and quantitative studies.

Quantitative studies are helpful in generating reports on things such as current trends. Meanwhile, qualitative studies are more descriptive. They're useful for understanding populations or general sentiment, but it's harder to delve into the "why" of the results.

By combining different metrics, KPIs and approaches, you'll gain a better understanding of your UX design and how customers respond to it.

1. Start With Real User Monitoring

Take advantage of real user monitoring tools to get information on how customers use your products. By tracking real user activity, you'll gain insights into:

  • Installs
  • How many users opened the app
  • Sessions per day
  • Session durations
  • Heatmaps
  • User pathways through the app or website

These metrics show how customers use your app or website and highlight any unexpected areas of confusion, poor performance or oversight in the workflow.

App stores offer a simple way of tracking the number of installs, and depending on the platform you're developing for, tools such as Appradar and Mixpanel offer relatively simple ways of collecting analytics information about your app and its users.

2. Track Engagement Over Time

Acquiring customers or users via a marketing campaign is one thing, but keeping the attention of those users is a different story. Looking at page views, app usage and how users engage with your brand via social media can help you understand whether your current approach resonates with your customers.

Engagement is an important customer metric for all kinds of businesses — not just software providers. Take a broad view of how your customers interact with your brand. Do they like and comment on your social media? Do they share your content? If you have a loyalty program, are they actively participating in it?

Watching engagement statistics can give you an idea of how your existing customers feel about your brand and provide an early warning of waning interest or dissatisfaction.

3. Gain Measurable Data With CSAT Scores

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores are a popular KPI, but they can also be a part of a broader approach to monitoring the success of your UX design.

The CSAT survey uses a scale — typically one to three, one to five or one to 10 — to measure how happy a customer is with a brand. Higher scores indicate customer satisfaction, while lower scores indicate dissatisfaction. The score is calculated using the following formula:

(Satisfied customers [score of four or five on survey with a rating of one through five]/Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers

For instance, say you had 75 satisfied customers and 100 total survey responses. Your CSAT score would be 75%.

The higher the percentage of satisfied customers, the better. Your target CSAT score will depend on your industry, the territories you serve and even your country’s culture.

4. Monitor Usability Metrics for Greater Insight

Usability metrics can be useful for indicating how happy customers are with the app or website, and they may help you understand the cause of dissatisfaction or poor customer engagement.

By measuring how easy it is for users to access specific features or complete key tasks using your app or website, you'll better understand how it performs in the real world. If completion rates are low or it takes longer than expected for people to perform certain tasks, this could explain why people abandon the app.

Ideally, usability issues would turn up during testing. Using focus groups is a good way to identify problems with your user interface or your documentation. Monitoring support tickets, user groups and social media for feedback and common issues can also be helpful for finding problems that went unnoticed until your product was released into the wild.

5. Compare Customer Adoption and Retention

Compare long-term customer acquisition and retention rates. Even the most successful apps will have some users who uninstall them or stop opening them after a while. They may lose interest, or it may be that the app is working as it should but doesn't fit their needs.

Poor retention rates could be a sign of a problem, either in terms of how the product performs or how it's marketed.

Poor adoption could mean you're not doing a good job of turning existing customers into brand advocates or that there's room to expand your existing marketing campaigns.

Related Article: UX Is a Continuous Investment for Profitable Companies. Here’s Why

Standardizing the User Experience

One way to improve your UX design is to standardize it, or even better, to operate within existing standards so that your product is smooth and intuitive to use.

UX designer Adi Shanbhag of ICF International recommended having a design system, which he described as "a living, breathing document that helps you define a seamless brand experience for your product or ecosystem of products."

By using a design system, you can make sure key parts of the user experience are the same across the whole of your ecosystem, meaning users get a comfortable and familiar experience. No matter what task they're attempting to accomplish using your product, they'll always know that certain buttons or menus will act in a specific way.

This kind of standardization may not seem important for smaller apps. However, if your product becomes more complex or you have a website that's evolving over time, you'll appreciate having a standard framework so that new pages or features work as you expect.

Customer Needs and Responses Are Always Evolving

It's a good idea to revisit your UX design regularly to ensure it's still giving users a good experience. Many external factors can alter the way your users interact with your products, including:

  • Device preferences (are people on mobile/desktop?)
  • OS preferences
  • Other apps that users work with
  • Bandwidth availability
  • Hardware specifications
  • Attitudes towards privacy

It pays to stay aware of how your users interact with your product or service. If your primary user experience is delivered via a website, and you notice a trend toward people accessing it via smartphone, consider whether a mobile-first design or even a dedicated app might be more useful.

If the app is built around sharing content, but you notice interactions with a specific platform have tailed off, survey your users to learn if there's another platform they prefer instead.

Treat your UX design standards as a living document, because your users are living people with preferences and habits that change regularly. By evolving with your users, your brand can stay relevant and keep your community engaged for a long time to come.