We often think of metrics as analytical things, devoid of any emotion. After all, an 11.5% conversion rate is just a number. It’s possible we consider it a good number (it’s better than an 8.5% conversion rate) or a poor number (we really wanted a 17.5% conversion rate), but that’s as much emotion as we’ll allow it.
User experience, on the other hand, is a very emotional thing. When we deliver a crappy design, our users become frustrated. When we push out a delightful design, we see our users showing joy.
We don’t want our users to become frustrated. Delivering non-frustrating designs takes hard work.
To deliver the designs we want, we need support from our stakeholders, executives, and other influencers. We need our stakeholders to give us the permission, resources, budget, and encouragement necessary to deliver our users designs that are joyous to use. But how do we communicate with them to get the support we so desperately need?
Metrics are the lingua franca of organizational change
When an organization’s leadership wants to change something, they track their progress with metrics. When they want to increase sales, they’ll track progress with a sales metric. When they expand into new markets, they’ll track their progress with a market share metric.
As UX leaders, we also want to improve the experiences our products and services deliver. To show those improvements, particularly in large organizations, we’ll need to find metrics that track our progress. If our stakeholders are to give us the support we need, we need a way to show that their support will produce the change we’re promising.
We want UX metrics. But metrics are devoid of emotion and improving a frustrating design is intrinsically emotional. We have to find a way to surface the emotion when we’re using metrics, which is an inherently difficult process.
The flaws inherent in converting emotions to a metric
In the past, we’ve tried to convert the emotions — the frustration and the joy — directly into a numeric metric. We’ve tried this by putting emotions on a scale and reporting numerical…