With a calculated process, the right tools, and a staff willing to make it work, you can measure user experience (UX) on your websites and implement usability changes that show results.
In a recent DigitalGov University webinar entitled “Measuring User Experience”, UX supporters and practitioners heard from Achaia Walton, Senior Digital Analyst at the Department of Health and Human Services, about finding what critical things to measure to make websites more user-friendly. In case you couldn’t attend the webinar in-person, here are some of the main points:
Be clear about the mission of the organization and how the website you are working with aligns with it. Think about what your site visitors are looking for and what content your stakeholders value. When identifying goals for the site, set priorities and be mindful of initiatives. What defines success for your organization? For example, Flu.gov had a goal to promote the flu vaccine on the homepage during the season. That goal involved using the homepage to successfully showcase high-value content and including information the visitors wanted to know in the content. Ultimately, they hoped the website goal would translate to more vaccinations.
Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Make metrics relevant. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are objective measures that your team agrees contribute to the success of your goals. Classic measures like visits, clickthroughs, bounce rate, or time on page could be valuable, but maybe Facebook referrals or geographic location of visitors are better measures for your particular goals. To form KPIs, think about ways you can measure what you’d like your stakeholders to do. Depending on your goals, the important KPIs will vary.
Walton’s biggest tip regarding targets: be realistic. Improving UX takes time, so don’t overestimate the possibilities. A great formula to put targets in perspective is “past performance for metric + ideal growth for next year/quarter = new target”. Example: 150,000 unique visitors in 2013 + 10% growth desired = target of 165,000 unique visitors in 2014.
Measure and Analyze
Build a suite of tools that are relevant to measurement of your KPI targets. If you are testing visibility of certain content, for example, you’ll need eye-tracking or heatmapping tools. Maybe clickstream analytics or surveys are good measures for your KPIs; you might need tools for social media data collection, content consumption data, in-page data, or all of them! Collect information, form insights based on the data, then take action.
Test and Optimize
After you make changes, you need to test if it made a difference. Popular ways to do this include implemented measure testing (measuring change from a baseline), A/B testing, or multivariate testing. Remember that the process is iterative! Be willing to try a few things to see what works.
Creating an optimal user experience for your audience can’t be explained in an article or even a full webinar, but we hope this might give you a base to work from. For more information, watch the video below of Achaia talking UX with the Digital User Experience Program’s Jonathan Rubin and view the slides of the presentation.
Also, check out the Digital User Experience Program page on Digitalgov, and if you aren’t already a member of the Federal User Experience Community of Practice listserv, email Jon Rubin to request being added to the list.