Why Designers Must Take a Data-Driven Approach for Effective UX/UI Design

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Original Article:

Dice’s recent guest article titled Design with Outcomes: A Case for Objective Design Evaluation caught my attention the other day, as it didn’t fall within the typical UX/UI “tips and tricks” category of design guides one finds on the internet. The piece underlines the importance of data-driven decision-making when it comes to designing effective user interfaces.

For better or worse in the design industry, much like the entertainment industry, everyone’s a critic. Initial designs are rarely approved as-is and DesignHammer, like most firms, plans for this collaborative feedback and revision cycle. This process can manifest a healthy tension between a creative vision and user experience best practices. However, the goal of this process is more than breathing life into an organization's brand or delivering a highly usable user interface. At its core, this process is an opportunity to create a user experience that engages users and yields business-critical actions (e.g. newsletter sign-ups, contact form submissions, sales, donations, etc.). When the entire team keeps these goals in mind, the outcomes can be great for user experience and the organization's bottom line. To help keep your team focused on the ultimate goals, the Dice article suggests three types of metrics that can steer and measure highly effective web design.

At DesignHammer, our designers have decades of experience in effective web design. Still, the motivation behind why we design a certain interface in a certain way has less to do with creating the most modern, bold, eye-catching displays; but more to do with delivering websites that are results and objectives-conscious. To ensure our web projects are results-oriented by nature, the goals and objectives are established at the very beginning of every project. As the Dice article lists, there are generally three types of metrics used to inform effective web design.

First off are revenue-driven business metrics. Defining these metrics requires heavy collaboration between the client’s marketing team, the web designer, and project manager. This ensures that the web vendor truly understands the nature of the client’s business; including what will drive traffic to the site, the audience’s general design expectations, how the visitors are likely to behave on the website, and sales targets.

Next, are experience metrics. Unlike business metrics which are quantitative by nature, these metrics are quantitative AND qualitative. These metrics revolve around the quality of the user experience. One example of the quantitative side of experience metrics is measuring task success rate. This reveals the percentage of participants that successfully complete a task — such as the signup process, or adding specific items to their shopping cart — and helps designers identify user experience issues related to those processes. On the other hand, qualitative experience metrics include measurements of client satisfaction, which are usually determined through satisfaction surveys. To see some other ways to measure the user experience check out Make It Count – A Guide to Measuring the User Experience on Toptal.com.

The final metric category is social impact metrics, which measure the societal, political, and environmental impact of a design. This provides a detailed overview of what external factors should factor into the design itself, and how these factors should be applied to iterations of the design after the website launches.

At DesignHammer we often utilize Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and Google Data Studio after a project launches to measure some of the pre-defined metrics and then use performance metrics to inform future modifications to the design through continuous improvement. With these tools, we can better determine user behavior flow to analyze the current user journey to further optimize the site. If visitors are clicking back and forth between many pages this is often a sign of confusing navigation, misleading design, or confusing copy. We can also identify audience demographics, which gives you a comprehensive breakdown of who your visitors are and then single out your target audience to ensure they are following the intended user journey — including, what page they land on, where they are exiting, and if they are accomplishing certain “events” like signing up for a newsletter, adding items to a shopping cart, and making purchases.

Making data-driven design decisions allows teams for user experiences that move the needle for organizations. Keeping the ultimate organizational goals of a website in mind can provide clarity to the common tension between design aesthetics and user experience best practices." In the end, both the designer and the site owner want an effective site — which is why evaluating designs objectively helps make good decisions for best implementing the client's vision in a way that provides a good UX for the users and ultimately delivers the organization’s goals.

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