Tracking the effectiveness of your design

Originally written as a guest article for InVision’s blog by Jeff Gothelf, Author of Lean UX.

Editor’s note: We’ve asked a handful of design leaders to respond to prompts each week. This week’s prompt was “What key metrics do you use to track your design’s effectiveness?”

The metrics you choose to determine your design’s effectiveness vary based on each business problem you’re solving. Additionally, these metrics should be the same ones that determine the effectiveness of your product and engineering choices.

In other words, you can’t split out ‘design metrics’ from other kinds of product metrics.

The experience of using your product or service is holistic. Your users don’t think in terms of your org chart. The choices they make within your product reflect the sum total of design, product, content, engineering, marketing, and everyone else involved in making that product a reality.

“You can’t split out ‘design metrics’ from other kinds of product metrics.”

This is why it’s critical at the beginning of an initiative to determine what outcomes you’d like to achieve. Outcomes are measurable changes in customer behavior, and, perhaps most importantly, they’re objective. This is a huge benefit because it provides the product team (not just the design team) evidence for the efficacy of their choices.

Did these new changes improve customer success? If so, let’s optimize them. If they didn’t, let’s roll them back, learn why they didn’t work, and try again. These outcomes are related to the specific problem the team is solving. It’s therefore impossible to put forth a defined list of “design metrics” that would work across any project.

When it comes to the team’s effectiveness, it’s risky and difficult to carve out a specific discipline’s performance and measure it objectively. The best approach here is to run regular, cross-functional retrospectives with the entire product team. These exercises allow the team to assess what went well over the last iteration, what could go better and who will take the necessary steps to improve specific items.

“Run regular, cross-functional retrospectives with the entire product team.”

While there’s no specific metric that comes out of these sessions, teams can sample the general morale of their colleagues with an anonymous poll at every retrospective. This result can be plotted over time to see if team morale — for the entire team, not just design — is going up or down and what’s driving that change.

Join the conversation

Write your own response to the prompt “What key metrics do you use to track your design’s effectiveness?” on Medium, and submit it to our publication.

Originally published at on March 3, 2016.

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