Why we should be cautious of adopting business KPIs as our own
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Issue 028

Business metrics ≠ UX metrics

​​The age-old and often derided adage, "What gets measured gets managed" has long been a guiding principle for businesses seeking to optimise their performance.

As a result, companies often rely on a range of quantitative measures such as Conversion Rate (CR) and Average Order Value (AOV) to gauge their success.

Designers are regularly encouraged to familiarise themselves with these measures. This makes sense, since revenue-related metrics ultimately decide the fate of most businesses.

But occasionally, our discipline's relationship with these metrics can stray into awkward territory. Educating ourselves about business metrics is essential, but labelling these as UX metrics too is where things can become problematic.

So, what are the potential pitfalls of conflating business and UX metrics?
⭐ Recommended article by Maximilian Speicher, Director of Product Design at BestSecret
12 minute read
In this recommended long read, Maximilian Speicher does a great job of exploring this question.

The article emphasises the importance of understanding the distinction between business and UX metrics, and why it's prudent to measure our work against appropriate design-centric KPIs.

Once, I asked an applicant for a UX position: 

“What is user experience?” They replied: “When a user can complete a funnel and convert successfully.”

Needless to say, I was screaming internally..

Maximilian Speicher
Director of Product Design at BestSecret

The strongest cause for caution comes in the shape of deceptive patterns that often make their way into user journeys in the name of conversion-rate optimisation. 

Urgency timers and questionable stock counts use scarcity to nudge customers into purchases, but implementing these shady techniques to improve conversion rate metrics can hardly be considered a positive user experience for end customers.

A photo of a laptop screen displaying some business metric visualisations
As always, there's a balance to be struck between awareness and adoption, and Maximilian does a great job of outlining which metrics designers should monitor, and which we should embrace.
So, which business metrics have you been encouraged to measure your design work against? Did you encounter any issues while doing this?

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- I'd love to hear from you and share your stories in a future newsletter.
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