The 7 most important KPIs to measure the success of UX research

Discover how to measure the success of your user research with these 7 essential KPIs.

What are KPIs?

KPIs or Key Performance Indicators, give you a quantitative way to measure progress over time, see if the goals are being met, and analyze whether changes need to be made.

Key Performance Indicators are critical measures of progress toward an end goal. They are used to measure the effectiveness of your product or prototype.

Why should you measure KPIs?

There are many reasons to start measuring KPIs:

  • To track the progress
    • They let you know if your UX design is working or if you need to make adjustments to reach the goals. They can show you if you are on the track to achieving the results you want.
  • Identify key problem areas
    • KPIs are the quantitative measurements of users’ feedback on your product. This makes them a great tool to access the quality of UX design and identify problems.
  • Show success to stakeholders
    • KPIs help you to translate the value of UX into the language of stakeholders.
    • Using numerical data makes it easier to determine how your design performs.

7 Main KPIs

There are many KPIs that can be useful when planning and conducting a UX research study.

Let’s go through each of the indicators and see how can we measure them.

Time on task

Time on task measures how long it takes for a user to complete a task. The average time on task is usually communicated as the final KPI. The shorter the processing time, the better the user experience.

To measure time on a task, all you need is a timer! Start timing the user when they begin the task you’ve assigned, and stop timing as soon as they completed the task.

For example, you might time how long it takes for a user to start from the home screen of your app and complete the checkout flow to purchase a shirt.

Use of navigation vs search

Use of navigation vs search indicates the number of people who use the navigation bar, compared to the number of people who use the search functionality. Some users prefer to use the navigation bar to get around the product, while others will go straight to the search bar.

To compare the use of navigation vs search, count the mouse clicks or taps on the navigation bar, and compare that to the number of times a query is entered into the search bar.

This KPI doesn’t measure the preference of users, so you don’t need to worry if the numbers are high or low. Instead, the goal is to understand how users interact with the navigation and search functions of your product and maintain the balance between them.

User error rates

User error rates indicate the part of the design that causes the user to make errors. For example, a user might enter his date of birth in the address field, or forget to check a box.

User error rates help point to areas where you need to make improvements to the design of the user experience.

To measure user error rates during a research study, keep track of the parts of the design where the user makes mistakes while completing the tasks you’ve assigned.

The lower number of errors, the better the design.

Drop-off rates

There would be times when some users would not be able to complete the task you assigned to them, and that’s when this KPI comes in, Drop-off rates show how many users abandon the experience. In other words, how many users quit before reaching the end of their goal?

A user might quit using the product:

  • If the navigation is difficult to understand
  • They get frustrated while trying to complete a task, or
  • If they simply get bored

To measure the drop-off rates in your designs, count the number of participants who quit a task or don’t make it to the end of their goal.

Your ultimate goal is to iterate and improve the designs to decrease drop-off rates.

Conversion rates

Conversion rates indicate how many users complete the desired action. Conversion rates are the opposite of drop-off rates.

To measure the conversion rate for your product, count the number of research study participants who complete a listed action.

The higher the conversion rate, the better the design.

System usability scale

The System Usability Scale (SUS), offers a quick and effective way to evaluate the usability of your designs. SUS used to find various characteristics of the product like:

  • Effectiveness – can users successfully achieve their goals?
  • Efficiency – how efficient it is to achieve that goal?
  • Satisfaction – was the experience satisfactory?

In a SUS, users are asked to answer 10 statements about the usability of a design. These questions are designed to get quick and unfiltered feedback from the user for each testing session.

The 10 usability scale questions are:

  1. I think that I would like to use this product frequently.
  2. I found the product unnecessarily complex.
  3. I thought the product was easy to use.
  4. I think that I would need the support of a technical person to be able to use this product.
  5. I found the various functions in this product were well integrated.
  6. I thought there was too much inconsistency in this product.
  7. I imagine that most people would learn to use this product very quickly.
  8. I found the product very cumbersome to use.
  9. I felt very confident using the product.
  10. I needed to learn a lot of things before I could get going with this product.

Users might be asked to respond to the statement on a scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”. It’s a quick and reliable way to know if the design is working.

You want participants to score “strongly agree” to positive statements (such as, “I think I would like to use this product frequently”) and “strongly disagree” to negative statements (such as, “I found the product unnecessarily complex”).

Net promoter score

Have you ever used a product or service recommended by your friend? Most of you will say “yes”. This is what Net Promoter Score (NPS) does, it measures the likelihood that a user would recommend your product to a friend or colleague.

Participants rate the question, “Would you recommend this product to a friend or colleague?” on a scale of 0 to 10.

  • Promoters – participants who give a rating of 9 or 10, which means they would recommend your product to others.
  • Passive – participants who give a rating of 7 or 8, which means they are satisfied with your product, but they may not recommend it to their friends or colleagues.
  • Detractors – participants who give a rating of 0 to 6, which means they would warn people away from your product or service.

To calculate NPS, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. If the NPS is positive, it means users are satisfied with your design. If your NPS is negative, it means that your user experience might have bugs, or might create frustration among users.

Which KPIs to choose?

These seven KPIs are important measures for the success of your research study or for the designs you’re testing.

When deciding which KPIs to measure for your project:

  • Think about the goals for your research, and
  • The findings you want to be able to present to your team.

Each KPI is unique, and together, they work to help you measure the success of the user experience you’ve designed.

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Mohsin Khan
Mohsin Khan

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