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Design metrics that help product managers
The design metrics product managers need to know

Every company’s design function needs metrics.

Even though business key performance indicators (KPIs) like return on investment, revenue growth, revenue per client, and profit margin are good metrics to measure the overall brand performance, they offer little insight into the product’s user experience (UX). The right set of UX metrics helps businesses take an unbiased, objective look at their products through their customer’s eyes. Through UX KPIs, companies can now identify and shed light on previously unknown or unaddressed customer pain points, incomprehensible features, problematic attributes, and other areas of improvement. 

The goal of a product manager should be to leverage the insights that design KPIs can offer to increase product value and desirability over time. This article explores design KPIs and why product managers can significantly benefit from adopting the right metrics for their products.

What are UX design KPIs?

Designers need their own set of KPIs and metrics to truly communicate design productivity and impact to product managers.

UX design KPIs are design metrics that measure the performance of a product to gauge how well its users are receiving it. Design KPIs convert user attitude, behavior, and experiences to highlight triumphs and shortcomings of products and their features to numerical scores that can generate actionable design insights. These insights allow product managers to increase the product’s value, usability, and accessibility and boost overall UX. Product managers need to know how business KPIs differ from design KPIs and why managers need to look into deploying the right KPI set for product evaluation.

Why product managers need to measure design metrics

Where KPIs such as revenue, sales, ROI, and more are real-time assessments of the business’s performance, UX KPIs, on the other hand, precisely follow the performance of design products and their user experiences. Through design KPIs, product managers can also assess if design teams are performing optimally and if there’s room for improvement. They can also help identify underperforming product features that may need immediate attention.

An underperforming product poorly reflects on the design team and the product manager tasked with its design and direction. Most often, the managers bear the pitfalls of flawed product design. This accountability is an added motivation for product managers to ensure that all product features are routinely scrutinized with the right UX metrics to achieve the best user experiences. 

Remember, a one size fits all approach does not work to achieve the best design outcomes. It is essential for design managers to carefully select KPIs that best capture the user sentiment, emotion, behavior, and attitude feedback that can benefit the product.

Design metrics every product manager needs to know

The product is only as strong as the product manager driving its lifecycle. Leading product managers often deploy multiple design-level UX KPIs to track the product’s success rate. Here are some design behavioral and attitudinal KPIs that may be useful for product managers.

Behavioral KPIs

Behavioral KPIs enable product owners and managers to judge consumer behaviour, and therefore, judge product design effectiveness.

Behavioral KPIs are an assessment of user activity and interactions with your product represented as numerical scores. Product managers can leverage the insights gained from behavioral KPIs to spot problems based on customer behavior and deploy swift solutions and adjust how the product performs in the future. Here are some of the widely used behavioral UX KPIs:

Time on task

This metric measures product usability by testing how long it takes for a customer to complete a task. For instance, when users take extended periods to achieve a specific task, it could imply that there are issues with that particular product area that needs work. This behavioral UX KPI provides users an easy, understandable, and seamless experience in all product-related tasks. 

In typical instances, the benchmark of excellent time on a task involves shortening the time it takes for task completion to as low as possible, except for products where businesses need the users to spend longer on the product. Hence, the time on task UX metric is entirely subjective to the nature of the product.

Task accomplishment rate

This UX metric studies customer behaviors and quantifies which percentage of customers can accomplish core tasks in a flow. For instance, reviewing user flows with a defined start and finish, such as signing up for a product page. If a large percentage of the users begin to signup but abruptly quit at a point, it implies that there are UX pain points along the signup process that deter customers from completing the process. Ideally, a rough estimate of the industry standard for a reasonable task accomplishment rate is around seventy-five percent of all attempted tasks.

Error rate

The error rate KPI measures the number of times users commit errors while performing a task. Counting the number of times users perform errors on the product features helps identify the frequency of errors and their impact on the product. For instance, higher error rates could potentially cause customer churn, significantly impacting product performance. Some causes of user error rates are slips, mistakes, and UI issues. There are several ways error rates are calculated based on the nature of the product.

Navigation

This measures the traction your product website or digital product is gaining daily. It also highlights product problems and website navigational issues through customer retention statistics. If there is a growing rate of decline in website traffic, this could imply that something is wrong with the website itself or the product warrants further improvements. This multifaceted metric can provide many insights for UX designers on website accessibility and desirability.

Attitudinal KPIs

Attitudinal KPIs focus more on customer attitudes and opinions during different touch points with the product. They measure how the customer feels about the product user experience to further harness and improve the product. Here are some of the attitudinal UX KPIs that product managers should consider utilizing:

Attitudinal KPIs study customer attitudes and opinions during different touch points in the product

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

This design KPI gauges through feedback if customers are satisfied with the products offered. It also tries to understand if the brand engages users optimally and if the product is meeting usage benchmarks. Usually measured on a 5-point scale, ranging from very dissatisfied to very satisfied, this metric can calculate the aggregate user attitude toward the product in general or different features within the product. The number of points on the scale may vary depending on the product, but the purpose of the CSAT UX KPI remains the same.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

A widely utilized UX metric, NPS derives invaluable insights into product functionality by simply posing the question ‘how likely are you to recommend this product to your peers?’. This metric is an evaluation of the customer loyalty that a product is generating through its user experience. Similar to the CSAT scores, NPS score measures use a numbered point scale based on the business requirement. NPS typically calculates user attitude through a 10-point scale, with 0 being not likely to recommend to 10 being highly recommendable. Once feedback is collected, product managers can categorically sort users into three buckets; passives, promoters, and detractors. These buckets or customer clusters help product managers better understand their customer base and determine the ideal demographic for which the product is most desirable.

System Usability Scale (SUS)

This simple but effective UX metric works by acquiring customer feedback on product usability through a quick ten-question questionnaire. These ten questions have five answer options ranging from strongly agree to disagree. Although being an older simplistic approach with better UX metrics out there, it still stands the test of time with its widespread usage as a quick way to gauge customer attitude.

Feature usage rate

The feature usage rate is a user behavior metric that provides insights into how customers use your product and highlights the product features that customers find most desirable. This UX metric is especially helpful in customer acquisition, where the feature usage rate metric can help guide new customers to customized features that are of relevance to their individual needs.

Google HEART - a design metric framework

Tech giant Google’s HEART framework, an acronym for Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention & Task Success, is used to help businesses measure user experiences at a large scale based on the five carefully selected user-centric metrics.

Google's HEART framework lists several useful KPIs that can help measure design impact

In conclusion, it is worth remembering that revenue-generating products that perform adequately from a business standpoint may still suffer an unexpected rate of decline in their customer base due to a lack of UX insights. Keeping Innovation and UX on the back burner is counterproductive when attempting to keep products relevant and desirable through their life cycle. Design organizations and product managers that focus wholly on business KPIs and lesser on design metrics are the most common victims of product decline. Instead, a more scrutinized approach to gauging product-specific performance through UX KPIs quantifies customer pain points and overall product or service issues. So as a product manager, conduct assessments as to which design KPI metrics are perfect for your products. The right bag of UX KPIs can help create truly excellent products.

Quantify the design process with Cubyts

At Cubyts, recommending the right design KPIs for your products is our utmost priority. Our streamlined DesignOps platform can help you measure your product design impact and performance through our trackable design metrics. Find out more by visiting our website.