Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Metrics for Heuristics: Quantifying User Experience (Part 1 of 2)

Using heuristics to design the UI - part 1 ...

"In part two of Metrics for Heuristics, Andrea Wiggins examines how web analytics can quantify usability, content, and navigation.

Web analytics typically provides intelligence for marketers and executives. While valuable for proving Return On Investment (ROI), web analytics’ real potential lies in improving the online user experience. When analytics data is shared with information architects, a subtler and more sophisticated user experience design can emerge. Information architects need to understand why visitors come to the site and what they seek, so that the content can be best presented to meet user needs and business goals. First, however, it is necessary to evaluate the site using appropriate information architecture guidelines.

Using heuristics
Providing a context for heuristics is the most useful application of web metrics in a site redesign: a framework for measurement is critical to future evaluation of the success and value of strategic but intangible investments like information architecture. Analyzing pre-existing web traffic yields insights to user behavior and measures how well a site meets user needs. By comparing analytic data to an information architect’s heuristic evaluation, a basic validation emerges for otherwise subjective performance measures. In addition to heuristic validation, web analysts can use the information to engineer effective key performance indicators (KPI) for future evaluation, and the information architect can use the information to provide direction for the design.

Before further exploring the use of web analytics to support information architecture heuristics, it is necessary to note weaknesses in source data and current analytic practices. First, web traffic measurement will never reveal the complete user picture, and this is one reason to use web analytics in combination with other user experience evaluation tools, such as customer databases and user testing. Second, there are currently very few standards in measurement, methods, and terminology, which affects the analysis and interpretation of any web analytic data. Finally, available site traffic data may be suboptimal for analysis depending upon the volume and nature of the data available.

... Rubinoff presents a format quantifying useful, though subjective, measures that information architects can easily assess, and his example uses four broad, equally weighted categories with five evaluative statements in each. The most functional aspect of this tool is its complete customizability. Because every domain operates in a different context, information architects and web analysts will achieve greatest success by using the evaluative points that will be most verifiable and valuable for each website."    (Continued via Boxes and Arrows)    [Usability Resources]

Spider Chart - Usability, User Interface Design

Spider Chart


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