UX And The Art And Science Of Measurement

Last week at the IAB MIXX Conference, I had the pleasure of leading a spirited discussion on UX (user experience) measurement among four distinguished speakers, each with a very different background and set of responsibilities.  One is a chief revenue officer at a well-known publishing brand; another, a global director of research and analytics at a major agency. There was also a research leader at a digital music video site, along with the leader of brand programs, developer engagement and content marketing at a major brand.

Historically, in the media business, the consumer has – or should always have — been at the center of every decision about content and advertising.  In the digital age, that idea has real-time relevance.  Technology enables real-time collection of behavioral and biometric data that tell us about the user experience with an interface.  

There is an interesting irony at play in UX measurement and interpretation today: Technology forces a layer of art into the interpretation of UX.  

Well before the advent of digital media, design and usability as a way of thinking about the quality and utility of user interface have long been at the root of UX. As technology became a more significant part of daily life, the interplay of technology and design became more important to UX.  Digital media and ad tech enable more consumer media interactions and more and more data to be collected, thus requiring sharper empirical and interpretative skills.  

In fact, the interpretations, grounded in science, are an art form.  One could say that “data and UX are the new creative.”

There are many definitions for UX, but the media and marketing industry may not have anointed a single definition yet.  The speakers at the MIXX conference discussion were asked to express their own definitions of UX and to distinguish it from other kinds of research and analytics disciplines.  Coming at it very differently, we converged on the notion that UX is about the consumer or user interface with every brand or product touchpoint from the perspective of a chief revenue officer — one that encompasses a site visitor’s experience with the content and the advertising, content creators, and the advertisers.

Interestingly, our agency research leader applied the principles of UX to the conduct of consumer research. The point here is that better information can be gathered from respondents who are having a better, simpler experience with research tools.  This is a concept we should all consider in every research design.

From the Usability Body of Knowledge, a brief definition of UX is, “Every aspect of the user’s interaction with a product, service, or company that make up the user’s perceptions of the whole.”  And, from the same source, another quote that sheds light on the core construct, usability, and the kinds of KPIs that could apply: “Usability is the degree to which something - software, hardware or anything else - is easy to use and a good fit for the people who use it.
•It is a quality or characteristic of a product.
•It is whether a product is efficient, effective and satisfying for those who use it.
•It is the name for a group of techniques developed by usability professionals to help create usable products.”

For an experience with a site, content, advertising, a product, a service, etc., to be satisfying or resonate emotionally, brands should have a consciousness about UX and about measuring it.

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