Success Metrics (was: Visual aspects of interaction design...)
30 Apr 2004 - 1:12am
10 years ago
> 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
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!
Principal Interaction Designer
Ramirez Design, LLC
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
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
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
After all, aren't we all after better products? Better from both a
usable and visual perspective?
Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.