UX Rings: A System for Measuring UX Design Success

Many business professionals fall into two categories: data junkies and empathizers.

Data junkies obsess over metrics. They love numbers and measure everything. If they can’t quantify it, they aren’t interested.

Empathizers are on the opposite end of the spectrum. They care more about the user’s feelings, emotions, perceptions and other qualitative metrics.

UX design has historically been a purely creative discipline, where designers use their intuition and empathy to develop a solution that connects with their users. Over the past decade or so, many designers have developed a more data-driven approach and become obsessed with tying everything back to numbers.

In the past, you could use either approach to gather good information and develop smart products. But today, UI/UX design isn’t so black and white. The best products don’t just rely on data OR feelings — they use both.

The problem is there are plenty of techniques for tracking qualitative information (user interviews, personas, journey mapping, etc.), and plenty of tools for tracking quantitative information (analytics, conversion rate, usage duration, etc.). But there isn’t one that does both.

That’s why we created UX Rings.

The best products don’t just rely on data OR feelings — they use both.

Blending Quantitative and Qualitative Data to Measure UX Success

UX Rings is a system for measuring the overall quality of a product’s user experience. It uses the Design Success Ladder as a starting point and then assesses a product’s strengths in each of the 5 segments: functional, usable, comfortable, delightful and meaningful.

UX Rings - A System for Measuring UX Design Success

The Design Success Ladder is a great high-level, linear benchmark. It evaluates how high your product has “climbed” and suggests the next rung or segment of the ladder to aspire to.

UX Rings takes the Design Success Ladder a step further. It provides a multidimensional ranking that combines quantitative and qualitative data to assess your product’s performance within each segment. As your product improves to a certain level in each segment, you complete a ring. The goal is to finish all 5 rings — the epitome of successful product design — with mastery of each segment of the user expereince.

UX Rings provides a multidimensional ranking that combines quantitative and qualitative data to assess your product’s performance within each segment.

UX Rings in Action

QuickBooks Online: 1 / 5 UX Rings

Consider QuickBooks, the biggest player in small business accounting software. Millions of businesses use it to automate the reconciliation process, maintain a clean set of books and save time and money.

QuickBooks Site

QuickBooks used to only be a native app for Mac and Windows, but in 2001, they launched an online version. Since then, the company has redesigned QuickBooks Online several times to improve the user experience.

After evaluating QuickBooks Online using the Design Success Ladder and putting it through the UX Rings quiz, it’s clear that the product leaves a lot to be desired.

UX Rings Score for QuickBooks

It may look slick and have an appealing visual design, but the user experience remains clunky, confusing and frustrating for the average user. In an attempt to reach the delightful and meaningful rings, QuickBooks Online has sacrificed basic functionality, usability and comfort. Unless they improve these areas, customer satisfaction and sales are at risk.

Asana: 3 / 5 UX Rings

Then there’s Asana, a project management tool that our team at Drawbackwards uses to plan projects, track tasks and communicate about those tasks without getting bogged down in email.

Asana App and Site

Using the Design Success Ladder, we can see that Asana has built a strong product and climbed to the higher segments of the ladder.

Asana Design Success Ladder

This ladder provides a high-level overview of Asana’s UX performance. However, it doesn’t tell the full story. Like any product, Asana is stronger in some areas and weaker in others. Just because it has reached the Meaningful rung of the Design Success Ladder doesn’t mean it’s perfect. There are plenty of areas for improvement within each of the segments.

That’s where UX Rings comes in. After putting Asana through the quiz, we see that it has completed 3 of the 5 rings and has varying levels of success within each segment.

UX Rings Score for Asana

Using the UX Product Success Report that’s generated after taking the quiz, the Asana team could learn specific next steps they could take to complete the remaining segments and refine the overall user experience.

Slack: 4 / 5 UX Rings

Slack’s messaging system is a testament to the power of good UI/UX design. The company has not only mastered the basics of building a functional, usable and comfortable product, but also infused delight and meaning to create a loyal base of diehard fans. This dedication to UX catapulted Slack from a startup to a $4-billion giant in just two years.

Slack Growth

The UX Rings quiz reflects Slack’s design success. The product scores high in almost every segment and has completed 4 out of 5 UX Rings. As with any product, there’s always room for improvement, but Slack has achieved more UX success in just a few years than most products experience in their whole lifetime.

UX Rings Score for Slack

Take UX Rings for a Spin

We’re still building the full UX Rings system. The beta is now available at Design.org, begin with a simple quiz where you answer a set of easy questions from the user’s perspective around a product and get a free UX Product Success Report in about three minutes.

UX Rings Quiz

The UX Product Success Report delivers an overall score, a breakdown of product strengths in each UX Success Ladder segment and suggestions on concrete action items your team can take to boost the product to the next level.

The UX Product Success Report is hugely valuable for product teams because it:

  • Allows you to have a quantifiable conversation with designers and developers about a product’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Contributes to more focused design critiques and sketching sessions
  • Educates upper management on the important UX attributes they should measure
  • Empowers product managers and design directors to track progress and demonstrate improvement to upper management
  • Makes budgeting, project planning, and resourcing conversations easier by providing a tool that demonstrates the time and iteration it takes to create meaningful products

As with any MVP (minimum viable product), there’s plenty of room to learn, iterate and improve. The quiz on Design.org is our MVP. Be one of the first people to try it out, and let us know what you think! We’re still tweaking the questions and fine-tuning the scoring engine, so email us at feedback@drawbackwards.com with any feedback on your experience and suggestions for improvement.

Stay tuned for the next version of UX Rings coming soon: an even more robust measurement system that product managers can use to gather continuous user feedback, track customer satisfaction and take a more intentional approach to managing product UX success. To be notified when V2 of UX Rings is ready, sign up here.

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