LogoJuan Manuel Allo Ron

How to measure design effectiveness

By Juan Manuel Allo Ron on Nov 5, 2014

I been reading a book called Adventures in Experience Design written by Carolyn Chandler and Anna Van Slee, and I found a method that seems to be very useful to test how effective an user interface is.

The exercise is just about taking your design with a collection of words that convey positive, negative or neutral feelings and share it with others, so they can choose which words spring to their minds when looking at the design.

Design is all about communication.It is the user communicating with the system model, a conversation between them, and the UI is the channel. Providing a good channel is crucial to succeed with your application. So I went deeper into the technique explained in the book and created a recipe to measure the actual message you are trying to convey with a design.

10 simple steps to measure the design:

  1. Think about the message you are trying to communicate with that design. Focus on simple words.

  2. Create a list of words that define your message.

  3. Expand the list adding more words related to the first ones, can be synonyms. The idea is to make a list of positive words.

  4. Now do the opposite, think about words that are against the message you are trying to communicate.

  5. Once you have both positive and negative words, add some neutral ones. Try to maintain a balance between positive, negative and neutral words, so you are not inclining the user to one side.

  6. Create a Quiz that contains:

    1. The design
    2. A brief explanation of the product
    3. The list of words
  7. In the Quiz ask the user to take a look at the design and circle the words that came to his mind. Then encourage the user to add 3 more words.

  8. You can also add some specific questions about the design, as for example, which was the first element you saw?

  9. Test with as much users as possible, statistically will be easier to analyze tendencies and have more accurate results.

  10. Collect and analyze the findings: Group positive, neutral and negative answers and understand how your design went.

Once you collect and analyze your data take it to your team and start working on improving your actual design. You can run this test with the improved design to see how things improved.

Don’t hesitate to do this testing, it should be inexpensive and can help your team find clues and understand how well the audience is listening to the designs. You can do this Quiz in an e-mail or with Google Forms and share it easily to other employees and receive the feedback. If you use Google Forms, you will already have diagrams and some information sorting out of the box.


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