Insights — Have You Checked Your Website's HEART Health Lately?

Have You Checked Your Website's HEART Health Lately?

Thought leadership , Digital / November 30, 2021
Lex Hade
Lex Hade

Editor's Note: One of the fastest-growing divisions at SimpScar is our user experience team, and we recently spoke with our Director of UX, Lex Hade, who provided this overview for the Google HEART framework and how it can be adapted for use in your digital strategies. This framework is a great example of how Lex and her team are leveraging data to create digital experiences that deepen human connection. 

A Framework for Evaluating Ongoing Website Success

The only way to truly determine if your website redesign was successful is to measure the impact and learn from it. Many of us have sat in on countless design review meetings that turned into heated discussions about various solves and subjective improvements. Attendees say things like, "I don't like it,” or "it probably won't work,” amongst other opinions, none of them rooted in data. Eventually, someone says, "let's test it," or, "we can A/B test it." This could be the right thing to do—but for it to work in practice, it's critical to use the right metrics.

Gut feelings are good, but making data-driven decisions is better. Using a framework to decide which metrics will best guide your product down the right path, for the right audiences, is the key. That’s where the Google HEART framework comes into play. 

→ Click here to download our guide to the Google HEART Framework.

What You'll Learn in This Article:

  • What the Google HEART framework is
  • Best-practice examples of goals and metrics for higher ed websites
  • How best to use the HEART framework, and why it matters

The Google HEART Framework: The Five Categories of Metrics

HEART is a metric framework that’s designed to measure impact on a large scale. It was popularized by Kerry Rodden, a UX researcher at Google Ventures, and it is a simple way to make sure your team considers every aspect of the user journey and the way a user views your website. HEART is an acronym, standing for:
  • Happiness
  • Engagement
  • Adoption
  • Retention
  • Task

Best Practice Examples of Goals & Metrics for a Higher Ed Website

How do our users feel? (Measures of user attitudes or perceptions)
  • Popular metrics: 
    • Satisfaction rating: How satisfied the participant is with the product
    • Ease-of-use: How easy the participant finds the task or product to use
    • Perceived usability: How usable the product seems to the participant
    • Subjective success rate: Whether or not the participant thinks they were successful at their desired task
    • Confidence rating: How confident the participant is in their task completion
    • Questionnaire scores: Set of questions resulting in a score, like NPS
How frequently, deeply, or intensely do participants use the product? (Level of user involvement)
  • Popular metrics:
    • Frequency of return: How often people return (for example: visits per user per week)
    • Average time spent: Across all users, how much time is spent on average in the product
    • Average number of sessions per user: Average number of times each user returns to the product
    • Feature usage: How much participants use a feature (for example, number of searches in the academic program finder)
    • Conversion rate: What percentage of visitors complete an important goal action (like apply, schedule a visit, request information, or make a donation)
    • Transactions & subscriptions: Count of completed goal actions
How are we attracting new users? (Initial uptake of a product or feature) 
  • Popular metrics:
    • New accounts/visitors: New users applying or registering for an event
    • Conversion rate: What percentage of visitors complete an important goal action (like signing up for a visit or requesting information) 
    • Transactions & subscriptions: Count of completed goal actions
How are we keeping people around? (How existing users return and remain active in the product) 
  • Popular metrics:
    • Returning users: People coming back to the website
    • Repeat transactions: People making more transactions after their first transaction

Are users able to complete tasks easily and with little effort? (Efficiency, effectiveness, and error management) 

  • Popular metrics:
    • Completion rate: Percentage of people who complete a process they started
    • Success rate: Percentage of people who successfully complete a task
    • Average time on task: Average amount of time a user spends attempting a task
    • Average time on page/view: Average amount of time spent on a page or screen
    • Error counts & error rate: Mistakes or slips users encounter in the product
    • Help tickets & support contact (calls, chats, emails): A measure of how much help users need (this could be internal or external users)

How Best to Use the HEART Framework (And Why it Matters)

There are several high-level ways your digital team can use the HEART framework:
    • Use the HEART metrics framework to measure things big or small: a website, a specific page, or a feature.
    • The HEART metrics framework can be referenced to model analytics and CRO reports; use a tool like Google Data Studio to create a dashboard to display cherry-picked numbers for key stakeholders. 
    • Start small. You don’t need to use all the metrics from the HEART framework to begin. You can list all relevant metrics, start tracking a couple, then only work on improving a few.

Overall, the HEART framework is a useful and effective tool for navigating design discussions and measuring the success of a website. Using the right UX research metrics will ensure that you’re using relevant and data-driven insights in the design process, which will ultimately create the optimal experience for the end-user, and a better chance of you hitting your broader marketing goals.

→ Click here to download our guide to the Google HEART Framework.

Lex Hade is our Director of User Experience and part of our rapidly growing digital team. She's a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design where she earned her B.F.A. in Painting. She credits the practice of watching people interact with paintings and seeing what they like and dislike to enhancing her ability to observe users navigate websites and web applications. Above all else, she's an absolute joy to work with. Learn more about Lex and the rest of our team here

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