Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Metrics for Heuristics: Quantifying User Experience (Part 2 of 2)

Using Web analytics to quantify the UI ...

"In part one of Metrics for Heuristics, Andrea Wiggins discussed how designers can use Rubinoff’s user experience audit to determine metrics for measuring brand. In part two, Wiggins examines how web analytics can quantify usability, content, and navigation.

Rubinoff’s usability statements echo several of Jakob Nielsen’s heuristics. There is a temptation to believe that web analytic technology can replace proven usability testing, which simply is not true. In every mention of web analytics in support of usable design, authors are quick to note that traffic analysis, no matter how reliable and sophisticated, is not able to provide the thoroughness or level of insight that lab testing can achieve. However, JupiterResearch’s 2005 report, “The New Usability Framework: Leverage Technology to Drive Customer Experience Management,” found that by combining professional usability testing with web analytics, customer satisfaction information, and a/b optimization, usability expenses can be cut dramatically, and purportedly without loss in quality.

Using usage information for usability
Error prevention and recovery is a common evaluation point for usability. Information architects will find it easy to determine whether a site offers appropriate error handling, but harder to quantify the value that error handling creates. The most direct measures are simple proportions: the percentage of site visits including a 404 (file not found) error, the percentage encountering a 500 (server) error, and the percentage of visits ending with other errors. Combined, 404 and 500 errors should occur for under 0.5% of requests logged to the server, and a quick check can reveal whether errors merit a further investigation. Path, or navigation, analysis recreates errors by examining the pages most commonly viewed one step before and after an error, so they can be understood and remedied. Examining 404 page errors will also identify pages to redirect in a redesign, ensuring a continuity of service for visits to bookmarked URLs.

Analyze success rates to determine whether a site helps its visitors accomplish their goals and common tasks. Applying scenario or conversion analysis to specific tasks, analysts can examine leakage points and completion rates. Leakage points, the places where users deviate from the designed process, should be of particular interest: when visitors leave a process unexpectedly, where do they go, and do they eventually return?"    (Continued via Boxes and Arrows)    [Usability Resources]

Web Analytics - Usability, User Interface Design

Web Analytics

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