The HEART framework is a methodology that aims to align the focus of the product team with the customer experience. The HEART framework was initially described in a research article entitled Measuring the User Experience on a Large Scale: User-Centered Metrics for Web Applications.
Understanding the HEART framework
The article entitled “Measuring the User Experience on a Large Scale: User-Centered Metrics for Web Applications,” which was written by a team of UX researchers at Google, noted that “there is a strong need for user-centered metrics for web applications, which can be used to measure progress toward key goals, and drive product decisions.”
Google also noted that while measuring small scale user experience was relatively simple, no framework existed to automate user experience management on a large scale. To fill this gap, the HEART framework was born.
The five core metrics of the HEART framework
HEART is an acronym representing five core metrics. Each metric focuses on the way in which a user engages with a product.
The five metrics are:
- Happiness. How do users feel about the product? In large projects, happiness is measured through surveys evaluating user satisfaction, ease of use, visual appeal, or net-promoter score (NPS).
- Engagement. To what extent are users engaging with the product? Here, extent describes the frequency, intensity, or depth of interaction over a predefined period. Engagement encompasses a broad range of metrics including the number of repeat visits, uploads, shares, or views.
- Adoption. How many customers are completing the onboarding process? Alternatively, how many users are upgrading to the latest version to enjoy new product features?
- Retention. What percentage of customers are return customers? Retention metrics include the number of active users, repeat purchases, and renewal rate. Customer retention is a critical metric of the HEART framework because it helps businesses avoid customer churn.
- Task success. Task success measures standard behavioural metrics of the user experience. Tasks themselves may include finding information from search results or completing a profile page. But success is determined by the efficiency or effectiveness with which tasks can be completed. In other words, is page load speed fast enough to satisfy the user? How many errors were encountered during the task? Is task performance intuitive or user-friendly?
Implementing the HEART framework
The HEART framework incorporates the relatively conventional “Goals-Signals-Metrics” (GSM) business concept:
- Goals – or critical tasks that the user needs or wants to accomplish. It’s important that the business narrows down a list of goals to no more than three. To help prioritize goals, Google UX researchers ask themselves: “What do we want a customer to tweet after using our product?”
- Signals – which encompass specific states that represent success or failure. Put differently, what behaviour would users exhibit if they could perform an action successfully? What behaviour would be exhibited if they couldn’t?
- Metrics – these measure goals and signals over time to quantify progress that is made in creating the user experience. As progress is made and the user base grows, it’s important to normalise data by using ratios, averages, and percentages. Metrics are similar to goals in that too many can become unmanageable. Instead, teams should only track metrics that help them make UX decisions.
Teams can better understand the interaction of goals, signals, and metrics, by plotting them against each of the five HEART metrics in a matrix.
Ultimately, this helps the business integrate behavioural and attitudinal data into something that can be scaled.
- The HEART framework was developed by Google to align the focus of the product team with the customer experience. The framework allows organizations to automate user experience management on a large scale.
- The HEART framework is based on five core metrics: happiness, engagement, adoption, retention, and task success. Each is focused on the product-user interaction.
- The HEART framework is woven into the more conventional “Goals-Systems-Metrics” (GSM) concept. Each core metric and associated GSM characteristics can be displayed in a matrix to help teams scale user experience management.
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