Three measurement myths, busted

Phil debunks popular measurement beliefs.

An illustration of tarot cards.

If your team doesn’t want to measure their work and treats doing so as a chore rather than an opportunity, it’s unlikely to happen. 

One of the barriers to measuring the impact of experience design work is the prevalence of myths. In this article, we’ll look at the most persistent ones and bust them, one by one.

Myth #1: You can only measure the impact of big design and build projects

The origin of this myth is in the many experience design activities that don’t have a direct impact on business metrics (like an app redesign or website optimisation project would).

If you’re creating personas, running a strategy workshop or creating a design system, it’s hard to draw a line between that and KPIs like revenue and profit.

The trick to getting over this is to understand that the success of a project doesn’t have to be measured by an end goal like increased sales, cost reduction and the like. If you’re creating personas, success means that they’re being used, they’re visible and they’re still relevant in more than six months’ time.

You can and should measure the effectiveness of your work on every project you do. The more you do it, the more natural it will seem and the better you'll get at it. It's important to make measuring outcomes a habit and making it a default activity is key to that.

On some small projects, it may seem unnecessary to measure outcomes, but these all add up in the long term. Every data point counts.

Myth #2: Measurement takes a lot of time and budget to do

Measurement doesn't have to be a big line item. On many projects, you might spend a couple of hours on it - that's it. If you keep it simple, it doesn’t have to take days of your time.

To keep the time spent on measurement to a minimum, make sure you have:

If you want your team to get into the habit of measuring the impact of their work, you need to make it easy for them. It should be something that they can do even if they have to do it when they’re feeling lazy on a Friday afternoon.

Of course, on the largest projects you’ll need to set aside more time for measurement.

In these cases, you shouldn’t have to fight to have measurement included as an activity – if the organisation is spending millions of pounds on a project, there should be an expectation that outcomes will be measured.

Myth #3: Measurement is difficult and complicated

When most practitioners think of ‘measurement’, they imagine unfamiliar analytics tools and endless Excel spreadsheets. The stuff of nightmares for many designers. 

Thankfully, measuring the effectiveness of your work is simpler than most people imagine. We encourage our team to keep it simple and focus on a few important outcomes.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the number of things that you can track, but just because you can measure it doesn’t mean that you should. 

One of the tools we use is a one-page template for creating a measurement framework.

This is designed to deliberately limit the number of outcomes, metrics and data sources that you can list, so that you concentrate on the most important. As with many things, if you can’t write down a summary of it on a single page, it’s probably not thought through well enough.

Measurement isn’t as daunting as you think 

To many experience design practitioners, measuring the effectiveness of their work doesn’t come naturally. But many of the blockers that get in the way of doing it can be overcome. 

Measurement is something that can be incorporated into every project you do. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or budget to implement, and it doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated.

With the right tools and guidance, any practitioner can do it.

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