Designers have and will continue to have a difficult time explaining and justifying what it is we do. This happens for a range of reasons - the space is constantly developing, requirements of the role are constantly changing and more importantly, what the role is doing for the overall production process is becoming more and more obscure as designers become increasingly cross functional. How then do we begin to explain our role in a way thats comprehensible but more importantly, measurable?
As much as we may or may not like it, numbers speak volumes, literally. For designers, it has therefore become increasingly important to incorporate measures of value into their design process, in order to begin to justify what it is they are doing for the overall production process.
Developing a framework that does this can be tedious but once completed could be the difference needed, to make sure an idea is passed through successfully. Having encountered this challenge recently, I conceptualized a framework that would hopefully guide me in ensuring that I was able to communicate the value of my work in a way that was comprehensive and effective.
Framework Inspiration & Outline
To determine the effectiveness of my process, I looked for frameworks that would allow me to explain what my work was doing, how effective it was internally and externally as well as what value it was adding to the product overall. The Digital Impact Framework proved to be a suitable candidate for this. Incorporating elements of Googles HEART Framework as well, would allow me to better communicate my process by providing a more holistic view.
I started off with a basic outline to better learn how I could further develop the framework. I created three phases within which measures could be placed: Pre-Design,Design,Post-Design. Separating my process into these three broad phases would allow room for modification depending on the projects needs. It would also allow me to determine the impact of my work in both the present and in the future.
Each phase of the framework contained elements of the HEART framework as well. HEART consists of 5 pillars that help you to measure the quality of your UX work and define specific metrics for each selected goal. These goals include; Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention, and Task Success. Given that every project is unique, it became essential to try and pick which of these pillars I would adopt, depending on the project needs. I would include some or all pillars in each evaluation checkpoint.
Goals could be set in a more granular manner or they could be general. Each phase could have a broad goal and a metric associated with that goal, to allow you to collect data accordingly. How specific your goals and metrics are will come down to time and budget, however setting broad goals is relatively inexpensive and measuring these in a cost effective manner is very possible.
Once all of these elements were in place, I then began to bring them together into a framework. Within this framework, work would be assessed based on Inputs, Outputs, Outcomes and Impacts. Lets explore each by looking at some of the questions you may ask yourself when evaluating each item:
Inputs - This describes items/resources/elements that go into doing the work
What went into this piece of work? What internal and external resources were used? How much of the overall budget was allocated to this piece of work?
Outputs - This describes the results of the work being done
What measurable (numerical) items resulted from this work? How many users were/would be affected by this work? What user testing results were attributed to this piece of work?
Outcomes - This describes short/long term observations that resulted due to the work
What subjective assessments can be made about the work? What internal changes occurred due to this piece of work? How many UX efficiencies were built out of this process?
Impacts - This looks at how the work has changed the the organization internally and externally
What lasting results have come out of this work? What HEART results can be seen due to this work?
Inputs could be described in very rudimentary terms, however the outcomes and impacts would be connected to the pillars of the HEART framework.
In the next post we will explore what this framework looks like and how it could potentially be implemented.
To be continued…