Measuring the success of a redesign

Whether you’re doing an all-out, completely new and shiny version of a website or application (scary!), or you prefer the gradual drip-drip approach favoured by Amazon and Yahoo, and advocated by the likes of Jared Spool, you need to show that the “after” is better than the “before”, right?

In business and marketing circles, they talk about KPIs – key performance indicators. On some sort of e-commerce site, this is relatively straightforward. “We aim to sell 5,000 more widgets per week after redesigning the shopping cart process”. Fine.

An example KPI from KPI Library

An example KPI from KPI Library

In the world of web-based bioinformatics tools, this isn’t quite so clear-cut. It is easy to say “Our redesign aims to make the tool more effective and responsive, and thus provide a better user experience”, but what does that really mean? How do you measure it?

In a short article at KPI Library, Stacey Barr warns against using “weasely” language (i.e. vacuous) to describe measurable goals and targets. Try to latch on to something that can be measured or demonstrated instead, and use those in your KPIs.

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