Google’s Heart Framework, although device-agnostic, can easily be adapted (and should be adapted) for mobile and app user experience. Before we jump into what is Google’s Heart Framework and how to adapt it for your app, let us begin with our emphasis on user experience (UX), and why it has such a huge impact on the overall mobile app user experience. Here are some UX related stats:
- According to a report, for every $1 that is invested in UX, it ends up giving $100. The ROI is around 9,900%
- 39% of users stop engaging with a specific platform (website, mobile app, tablet, etc.) if the images do not load or the loading takes way too much time
- After one bad experience on a website, 88% of the visitors will be less likely to return
- When it comes to mobile user behavior, they are 5 times more likely to give up on a task if the website is not mobile responsive
- In 2018, more than 21% of mobile apps were only used once
These numbers should more than suffice to understand the importance of user experience through any digital outlet an organization owns – web, mobile, social media, etc. In the modern-day technological arena, designers and product managers invest a lot of time and effort in the overall app user experience. With the ever-increasing competition in the mobile app industry, designers have to stay on top of their game by making efficient use of various metrics such as load time, app crashes, user feedback, etc., to have a thorough knowledge about each and every element of UX at any given time.
Having said that, the aforementioned metrics play a vital role in the constant improvement of a mobile app’s UX, however, it is not enough. For this, they need a vast series of user-centered metrics that allow designers and product managers to measure UX on a larger scale. And this is where Google’s HEART framework comes into the picture.
The Google HEART Framework
Designed by Kerry Rodden, Xin Fu and Hilary Hutchinson at Google’s research team, the basic idea of this framework is quite simple – to develop a series of user-centered metrics that allow UX designers to focus on specific elements of the UX they want to work on and improve on a larger scale.
It is imperative to understand that measuring UX metrics and user behaviors at a small scale is easy. Small business setups and mobile apps can even talk to their end users and gather valuable feedback from which they can observe trends and devise strategies accordingly.
However, when we talk about covering a larger segment of users from different demographics, locations, app behavior patterns, preferences, etc., then it surely becomes a big challenge for organizations to strategize the whole UX processes effectively.
The HEART framework is specifically designed to measure the quality of user experience and assist UX teams to gauge the impact of whatever UX changes are being made.
How Does Google HEART Framework Work?
This framework is based upon the following 5 metrics:
5) Task Success
As the name suggests, this covers a user’s overall satisfaction from a specific UX-related action. For instance, a latest app update might include a new app theme that a regular user might not be used to. It is important to note that the initial reaction or drop in happiness levels due to a change does not always mean a negative output in the longer run.
This is just one of the factors that a product manager or UX designer will analyze through measurement tools such as the customer ratings, reviews, etc.
This is the part of metrics that tells how much a user interacts with a specific digital platform over a certain time span. One important point to keep in mind here is the fact that only those metrics should be taken into account where the user interacts with the mobile app or any other digital outlet that is being monitored, out of their own will.
For example, corporate and enterprise digital platforms should not be included for their own employees’ results. If a person is supposed to carry out a job task through an app, it does not matter whether he or she likes the app or not. The job still needs to be done anyway.
The measurement part determines the intensity and regularity of usage. It always varies from one industry to another, so it is never a good idea to compare two user engagement metrics of products that are not similar in nature. Here at Storyly, as the first provider of in-app stories, we know all about in-app engagement!
This metric shows the platform’s ability to attract new users over a specific time period. For instance, if it is a mobile app, a product manager can assess the number of new users who have downloaded, installed and signed up for the app. Although this is more related to customer experience or aggressive sales and marketing activities rather than user experience, still this does give a lot of insights as to what further steps or strategies need to be implemented by the design team for UX improvements in future.
For instance, an organization might be able to generate app downloads or sign ups through a successful digital advertising campaign, however, in the longer-run the UX factor will play the key role in maintaining those high numbers a few months or years down the road. New users pay a lot of attention to those reviews and feedback, so they would know what they are signing up for.
Every organization intends to retain its existing customers or users. The ‘retention’ metrics in this framework covers the different time periods and comparisons that could range from week, month, quarter or a year. When the designers will be well-equipped with information and statistics that showcase the declining numbers, they will be better-positioned to make effective UX strategies.
When a new version of an app is rolled out, both the adoption and retention metrics work in cohesion to represent the UX performance and acceptance in a broader aspect.
The final metric of this framework is task success and this is related to the individual performance of various sections in a given workflow or the percentage of completion of specific sections. If we take the mobile app example again, this could be the time a user spends on the app registration section or the number of users who successfully placed an order using the app.
These individual sets of success and failures can give detailed insights to app designers and product managers about the processes that they need to revisit and redo.
How to Adapt Google HEART Framework For Your Mobile App
Now that we know what the Google HEART framework is all about, let us have a look how it can be implemented to improve mobile user experience and eventually, increase user engagement.
Know that this framework can be used for a single segment of an app, or for the entire app. Depending on what the nature of the app is and what audience or user behavior it is intended to cover, it can be implemented by following these steps:
The Goals-Signals-Metrics Process
Set Realistic Goals
The first step is to define realistic goals and ensure all team members are on the same page. It is possible that a mobile app could have very different goals as compared to let’s say, a TV advertisement for the same product. Similarly, a mobile app update could have different goals than the goals of the overall app.
As Kerry Rodden mentions, ‘At YouTube, one of the most important goals is user engagement – we want users to enjoy the videos they watch and keep discovering more videos and channels they want to watch.’
This emphasizes on the fact that having clear, relevant and precise goals is important for the success of this framework. Ideally, 3 goals are recommended in the goals section.
Map Goals to Signals
The next step is to connect your coals with signals, in order to get a real-time picture of all the set of actions that are being performed and user behaviors or attitudes that would eventually determine the success or failure of the whole system.
For instance, if a user places an order using an app, performs all the next steps and reaches the checkout page but instead of clicking ‘Place Your Order’, they go back and redo a specific step, it could indicate that step had an element that users are missing out the first time.
Important thing to note here is that the signals should be easy to track. If the nature of your business is such that it does not automatically logs user’s actions or app KPIs, it could turn out to be a mess. Secondly, it is advised to only choose those signals that are connected to your UX-related changes.
Choose the Right Metrics
The final step is to measure the information you amassed in your ‘signals’ section through quantifiable data that you can monitor in your dashboard. Some of the track-able metrics could be user feedback, user star rating, registration rate, sign-up rate, etc.
Again, it is important to only measure those metrics that are relevant to the whole UX process or the app’s user experience in totality
What are the Benefits of the HEART Framework?
So what are the main plus points of using such a framework for UX improvements? Let’s have a look:
- Business Intelligence – Since this system is based upon tracking user experience via different angles, it can provide valuable information not only to UX designers, but also to product managers, digital marketers and sales teams – such as what other factors might be affected if one metric is worked upon.
- Defined Focus – This framework enables design teams to work upon specific areas of a platform related to UX, for example mobile app, instead of investing time and effort on those areas as well that might not have a huge impact on the end result.
- Better ROI – Using this framework, the UX teams will have data that will provide clear insights about a specific metric or signal that yields a better revenue.
Our Final Thoughts
For an organization that is not satisfied with its app results or whichever digital platform they are using, they might want to make use of the HEART framework. This model works on a more holistic approach and lets the designers identify, connect and measure the problematic areas over a specific time period.
Apart from UX designers, the Google’s HEART framework can also be used by product managers to assist them with the areas that offer the most strategic value for future business decision-making or goal setting.
Finally, peruse the below presentation, if you’d like a quick recap of everything above.