Here at Connected Towers we are huge fans of putting users at the centre of application design. At its most simplistic level it’s pretty easy to understand what works and what doesn’t. However, we have to start somewhere. We need to lay the first brick, so to speak. A great place to start is the adoption of common or frequently-used application protocols.
A great start is to look at Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Apple and other highly-popular user places. If you clone the Facebook method of (for example) providing status updates then users will likely recognise the process and adopt it without a second thought.
Kerry Rodden has written what I think is the best explanation of this process when translated into a development framework; without having to spend months playing trial and error and avoiding woeful focus groups.
The HEART framework
Setting aside the outrageous suggestions of HiPPOs and stonewalling the creative nutters that populate many agencies is a good start but as you’ve read this far I’ll assume you’re immune to dual charms of authority and fine-art design. User Experience (UX) is based around real-world experiences of things you like (usually simple) and things you don’t like (usually complex).
The HEART framework is not our invention. The various threads of user interaction were pulled together in a well-hidden white paper with the sexy title: Measuring the User Experience on a Large Scale: User-Centered Metrics for Web Applications
Usefully, it was authored by a group of Google Tefal Heads (who now work for Youtube) and you can read the full white paper here. I don’t suggest reading the white paper per se, it’s really rather dull and quite technical. If we pull apart the framework what we find is most UX suggestions falls into a small number of of categories, five to be exact.
Happiness: measures of user attitudes, frequently collected via surveys. Examples include: satisfaction, perceived ease of use, and net-promoter scores.
Engagement: level of user involvement, typically measured via behavioural traits such as frequency, intensity, or depth of interaction over some time period. Examples might include the number of visits per user per week or the number of interactions per user per day.
Adoption: new users of a product or feature. For example: the number of application accounts created in the last seven days or the percentage of users who use functions.
Retention: the rate at which existing users are returning. For example: how many of the active users from a given time period are still present in some later time period?
Task success: this includes traditional behavioral metrics of user experience, such as efficiency (e.g. time to complete a task), effectiveness (e.g. percent of tasks completed), and error rate. This category is most applicable to areas of your product that are very task-focused, such as call-to-actions or application executions.