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Oriental Review

How to Measure User Experience of B2B Products?

As B2B products differ widely, UX metrics for B2B products need to be product-specific and systematically constructed.

What is user experience?

User experience (UX) is an abstract concept, as it is mainly based on the user’s subjective feelings about the product. Yet, this concept remains relevant because it determines how much users value the product. A wide range of factors drives our decision to label a product as “good” or not.

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For the B2C sector, there is a strong correlation between user experience and business growth. Therefore, models to measure B2C user experience have long existed. With growing competitiveness in the B2B industry, B2B companies are also starting to value user experience. These B2B companies want to leverage quality user experience to stand out in a crowded market. As a result, there is an increased research focus on UX metrics for B2B products.

Due to differences in business characteristics, it is difficult to directly apply the more mature B2C UX metrics to the B2B products. Therefore, we need to find suitable UX metrics for B2B products.

The current state of UX metrics

B2B products involve a long chain of complicated operations. A good UX design helps bridge the gaps in the process, making it more friendly for the users. But how do we decide which UX designs are good or bad for the users? The UX metrics serve as a good solution. However, the current state of UX metrics faces some challenges in the B2B industry. Take Qizhi’s product — a technology-oriented business platform as an example:

  • The confidentiality requirements of B2B customers for information security make it difficult for UX designers to obtain behavioural data. Therefore, they cannot use conventional models and indicators to measure user experience objectively.
  • The Net Promoter Score (NPS) model is subjective, and it focuses on a comprehensive evaluation. This means that apart from user experience, the product’s price and safety and overall customer satisfaction are also taken into account. These considerations are more suitable for B2C products instead of B2B products. As a result, the evaluation indicators cannot accurately analyze Qizhi’s product characteristics.
  • Users of technical products tend not to focus on user experience, which leads to limitations in the data value. Without a proper measurement method, user experience data gathered remains uncertain without providing any quantifiable value.

With many challenges in place, we are eager to find a UX metric solution suitable for B2B products like Qizhi’s business platform.

Existing UX metrics for B2B products

Before building ideal UX metrics that suits our products, we should have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the existing solutions. First, we classify the current measures into three types — either objective, subjective or a combination of both.

To quantify the user experience more comprehensively, big companies consider both subjective and objective data. Let us learn more about some of the excellent solutions in detail.

1. Google | HEART & GSM Model

The HEART model consists of five aspects: happiness, engagement, adoption, retention and task success.

To apply this abstract metric to practice, Google has proposed a Goal-Signal-Metric (GSM) process to define HEART data. Through GSM’s concrete and standardized processing, the HEART model can flexibly measure the user experience of any product or function, realizing the metric’s value.

Google’s HEART+GSM model serves as an excellent example of how quantitative data drives product design decisions. However, the HEART model is comparatively more suitable for B2C products, and it is not entirely applicable to the user experience of B2B products.

2. Alipay | PTECH Model

The PTECH model is a UX metrics model based on HEART. Specifically, this model changed “happiness” to “satisfaction” and expanded “task success” to “task experience”. It also removed the focus on retention and brought new dimensions such as “performance” and “clarity”.

PTECH targets the business characteristics of B2B products, aiming to pay equal attention to user behaviour and application performance. However, the PTECH model is not perfect. With the inclusion of the “task experience” indicator, real-time monitoring has to be done. The adoption rate might be lower due to the increased cost that arises from real-time monitoring.

3. Alibaba Cloud | UES Model & Usability Scale

The User Experiences System (UES) is an extended UX metric based on the Alibaba Cloud Usability Scale. It includes five indicators covering ease of use, consistency, satisfaction, task efficiency, and page performance. Among them, ease of use is an essential attribute of B2B products. The objective measurement of ease of use will be based on the Usability Scale.

UES has further improved the digital management system based on the UES model. After careful consideration of the standardization of UX measurements, UES developed an instrumental metric solution and formed a systematic management mechanism.

As shown, UES is indeed a more scientific and comprehensive UX measurement system suitable for technical B2B products. However, its huge system, complex measurement methods and tools may make it impossible for us to implement easily on a daily basis.

4. 58.com | B-Metric Model

B-Metric is a UX metric model that focuses on business characteristics and user roles. This model identified the top three challenges that B2B products face: the quality and safety of the system, the user experience of the core processes, and the gain from enterprise efficiency. The model included three primary metrics of basic user experience, role experience, and corporate value to quantify these dimensions.

In addition, this model considers the variation in product types and life cycles. With differing characteristics, the weightage of metrics will also differ. Specifically:

  • Based on product characteristics, different weights are assigned to various indicators in “basic user experience” and “role experience”.
  • According to the role characteristics, different weights are assigned to each role.

In short, B-Metric is considered as a comprehensive B2B UX evaluation model. More insights can be derived from the measures, and these insights are helpful in many areas, including product design and product development. However, the model is still in its infancy, and the rationality of the measurements lacks verification.

5. Kujiale | Four Factor Model

The Four Factor model is a UX measurement model for tool-like products. To achieve productivity, we need both “people” and “tools”. Therefore, these two components lay the foundation of the metrics.

Two factors make up the “people” component — the user’s role and mind. As for the “tool” component, it measures the product’s function and performance. Together, these four factors form a matrix with the final measurable goals.

The four measurement goals — high applicability, ease of learning, high efficiency and strong stability- draw lessons from the GSM method to develop a methodology with practical guiding principles and measurable indicators.

Building a suitable UX metric

As the general UX measurement solutions do not match B2B products, building a new model might serve as a better solution. This is why companies came up with many UX metrics for B2B products, as seen in the five models above. After diving deep into the existing UX metrics and models, we can now assess the best approach to building ideal UX metrics for B2B products.

Before building our UX metrics, we need to understand that the types of B2B products vary widely. Therefore, it is difficult to apply one standardized UX metric for every B2B product. This also means that we need to build different UX metrics for different B2B products. Among the UX metric models, tailoring Google’s HEART model with the specific B2B product’s business characteristics can serve as a guiding approach to build a new UX metric.

How can we discover the business characteristics of a specific B2B product? This is when the GSM method can be helpful. The first step is to determine our goals, as disassembling design goals with business goals can quickly establish a connection between design value and business value.

Next, let us answer a fundamental question — based on the business characteristics of your product, what are the key factors that affect the user experience?

We can map out the key factors based on these four aspects:

  • Product type: Is the product an enterprise-level product or a consumer-level product? What are the user types?
  • Business function: What is the purpose of the product’s functions? How complex is the function? How efficient is it?
  • User requirements: What are the different types of user roles? What do the different roles think and feel?
  • Performance: Is the product or platform stable? Is it running smooth?

Continuous in-depth questioning allows us to find valuable user experience signals. We can then combine such insights with classic models such as HEART to further determine the UX metric dimensions of specific products.

Ultimately, a UX metrics model needs to be systematically constructed. Designing an effective model can help us to discover new insights and make decisions based on fair evidence.

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