How do you know if your design is a success? Simply, that it will be better than the old design?

A good design only makes sense if it is measurable. In order to make the success measurable, you need to lay down what metrics you are trying to improve.

Web design is no longer just about making stuff look good, but has undergone a radical change from being just about aesthetics to being a strategic tool to improve business. Successful design is aligned with the business. Successful design metrics are aligned with business metrics.

At Benjamin Media, a lifestyle magazine company with significant accompanying websites, we measure our projects against a series of KPIs. At project start, we decide what metrics are appropriate for measuring its success and lay down what level we should aim for. While the project is active, we can then keep an eye on the metrics and see if we’re on the right path, or if we should adapt another path.

To be able to measure success rates, we’ve set up a system, that continuously collects data about our system and economics. We can then look at how the profile sign-up rate, newsletter recipient sign-up rate, or how much of the budget we’re using on maintenance.

So instead of just making a design that will look better than the old design, you could choose to set the goal of “improving brand recognition”, “decreasing the number of support phone calls”, or “increase the number of job inquires”.

Examples of other design metrics are:

  • Pageviews. Websites relying on banner impressions would love to increase this metric.
  • Unique users. Websites promising a broad share of market reach would like to increase this metric.
  • Sign-up. Number of new sign-ups.
  • First-time use. How many users do actually start using what the sign-up promises.
  • Engagement. How many users are engaged over time – beyond one-time use.
  • Newsletter sign-up. Newsletters can be a good tool to sell, make users come back, or make money on affiliate marketing.
  • Products sold. Product conversion rates are the mother of metrics for many online businesses.
  • Money spent. A controversial metric for many designers is to build something with the least money possible.
  • Development time. Can we increase the development time compared to past iterations?
  • Traffic sources. Do we want to increase the amount of traffic coming in from Facebook, newsletters, referrals, etc.?
  • Amount of work. Is it possible to decrease the amount of support calls, or any other form of manual labor that wasn’t fun anyways?

What metrics have you recently designed for?

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Anders Toxboe Author

As the head of Digital Development at DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation) in Copenhagen, Denmark, Anders Toxboe builds awesome websites with his teams. He also founded UI-Patterns.com and a series of other projects. Follow Anders at @uipatternscom.

24 comments

  • 36e371aa1629da59926cb9f985def7c1

    Door Handles UK on Oct 28, 2009

    not bad, i agree that is a good post.

  • 71067fed4cfe533a20f92c41486b555a

    web desiging on Nov 02, 2009

    Hi!
    You Its a very good and informative post. Your resources are very nice for the web designing expert and again i like your post and thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

  • 31c1314c4f08cd6c94638e5a0d06e3e6

    Jonk on Nov 04, 2009

    Any metric of success for the new site will only work if the same measurement has been made for the previous site. I’ve found this is rarely the case, and suggesting to the client that they spend money on establishing a baseline while the new site is being developed doesn’t go down well.

  • 51da194acab0f003455588524a9a89d4

    Ashish on Nov 09, 2009

    You can look for CTR, increase or decrease in bounce rate, average time on site or page. I think, interaction is one thing which should be positive and all the metrics that I suggested above should be quantified. There are obvious benefits of this approach like better user experience and higher search rankings. Google has interaction data for your site via toolbar, adsense, analytics adwords CTR and the results may be reranked based upon sites taht give maximum user satisfaction.

  • 33f9643f4d49744e45598b5e5eab0da7

    cable hdmi on Nov 13, 2009

    It is my dream to be the best designer forever. I also have found lots of tools and softwares and tried to learn them maximum. I am glad to read your article that will really help me out a lot. Thank you!

  • E37632a870ad76b6189163d88411e76c

    Web Solutions on Nov 20, 2009

    HI

    Good and informative post about designing.

  • 44a69d7bc609f5296f759a0b2760899b

    Gun Stores in Virginia on Jan 06, 2010

    I totally agree with you on this topic, good work always speaks for itself. :)

  • 7be728fb5473e96956b7a34031df9823

    Website Designers on Mar 01, 2010

    Its always an important point and must be kept in mind while making change in current design or making new design that what has to be unique then others. Excellent writing description thanks for sharing.

  • 9f6c1823cbcab4119765ce9bc40deacb

    website design montreal on Jul 16, 2010

    truly said. For metrics measure, Just install google analytics. It will show you all the above said metrics

  • 6fcb678f1d65f1c22dc65bc6740cd3bd

    Cable HDMI Pro on Dec 09, 2010

    It’s good to see people combining both design and marketing. Often times people split for 2 opposite schools of thought, one swears by awesome design, but that has little to no value on a marketing standpoint I’m talking of course of flash websites that take so much time to load, wonderful visually but not very good to keep the prospect, and people who think of marketing like computer programmers, like ugly design is the key and everything. I personally love both, and I hope you’ll make a great job with this!
    Keep me updated

  • 37965427187d2a5118a5def878b93bc9

    Web Design on Dec 28, 2010

    Great read and nice point of view on design metrics.

  • 378b2e007a836e3681b74de6cdf14684

    web design on Dec 29, 2010

    Measuring websites with Metrics is appreciable as it brings out the best Web designers in the industry.Design metrics also has a lot of Inconsistencies resulting from changing opinions.

  • Ea6062d3eabd4b9ac66654f659812bad

    Thomas on Jan 15, 2011

    This was very enlightening. I really liked how you explained the transition from designing out of presentation to designing with a strategic objective. Times have changed and things that used to matter have become obsolete and the only way for a website to survive now days is with a purpose behind every implemented decision. I provide website design and other designing solutions and I stress that to my clients. Again, great post. Very informative.

  • Bb08dcaa8c053bebf3f8d168db3c2bff

    houston website design on Jan 22, 2011

    Google analytics provides all of this for free :) Thanks for the write up! Added this blog to my favs.

  • 0039fc12c62ef285f3106c9593dea7e1

    Job Description Templates on Feb 15, 2011

    Great article Toxboe, what you said here really sinks, “Web design is no longer just about making stuff look good, but has undergone a radical change from being just about aesthetics to being a strategic tool to improve business. Successful design is aligned with the business. Successful design metrics are aligned with business metrics.”

    Thanks for sharing.

  • 579f4be9c29de5030b5c351a1e3b266f

    Web Design India on Feb 22, 2011

    What a fantastic roundup! I have always been a huge fan of No. 1Web Design and I find your style of writing to be absolutely harmonious. Keep up the amazing topics; I look forward to checking these out in the near future.

  • 8de45583c67167e8fcada2c779e20eea

    Ramona R. Battle on Feb 24, 2011

    A design is one of the contributing factor in which it can attract its viewers. Website designing is more on the basic principle followed by the the weight of the imagery. We should apply those light images in which it can load properly in a website. So this is the greatest challenge here.

  • 4db4a744c7fbd46a0460ce69deaefd04

    seo on Mar 15, 2011

    Web design is no longer just about making stuff look good, but has undergone a radical change from being just about aesthetics to being a strategic tool to improve business.

  • 697076c57f7051bca35672b372f1ffcb

    David Segel on Mar 23, 2011

    Great and beautiful topic on design metrics. I really like it very much. Thanks.

  • 40167967cefcc6d5ee5f1b4afa840a43

    amit on Jul 05, 2011

    Once you know which will be the objectives and the role of your Web site, and who will be your potential visitors will not be difficult to discover what content to offer. From this information, adapt functional resources, such aesthetic and technological factors in the design and development of its Web site.

  • 9c44e04779f402591685560c6d7bfb04

    Marc Azada on Sep 15, 2011

    @ Ramona: I agree. A design is a huge factor if you want to attract customers on your website. Thanks for sharing us the details about it.Good Job!

  • Db9f43dba1f716187caea10176a213d7

    Ray Cassidy on Sep 20, 2011

    We’ve just started redesigning a website’s data structure to try and achieve the 7th in your list. Product sales. Our conversion rate has gone from great to dire in 2 years and it’s quite useful to see the metrics you outline. Like one of your other readers says, the art of web design is no longer in the arty farty bit, it’s about finding the unique, functional, optimised and then attractive. IMHO ;-)
    Ray

  • D1bf7fa31b60a0c7987d4393958f2233

    mystudiospace on Oct 25, 2011

    It’s all about results. It was never “build it and they will come”. You have to have a plan, a good design, and a way to track the progress, making changes when needed.

  • 69642572864e8e685a403a7b2145be92

    Deepak on Sep 27, 2014

    The days are over when one could just throw some colors and the website was ready. We’ve come a long way where everything you do when designing a website has to be tied to a design strategy. Be it CTA, Case Studies, Testimonials, use of right complementing graphics or Exit popups. Everything has to be implemented in syc with the overall goal. This is how the ROI can be optimized.

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