Asking Why with Data Driven Design

Anyone who has been around kids for even ten minutes knows that their favorite question is “why?” At Sparkloft, that’s our favorite question too, and our design is fueled by this curiosity. We believe in data driven design, which means creating and modifying a product based on the data collected on it, rather than just design aesthetics alone.

When we’re talking about data driven design, it’s important to remember there are two types of data that are possible to measure: quantitative data and qualitative data. Quantitative data is numerical data that shows who, what, and when. Qualitative data explains the how and why. Let’s say you take a quantitative data source like Google Analytics, and couple it with qualitative data measurements from focus group testing and observation–– from there, you have a good start to developing a productive data driven design model.

And now it’s time for our favorite question: Why? Why is data driven design so important?

As more and more businesses operate digitally, it’s becoming increasingly important to understand how users perceive and experience your company on the Internet. A flawless user experience means people enjoy their user journey while they do exactly what you want them to your website. Data driven design, when used correctly, improves the likelihood of UI success.

Say you’d like to build a campaign where your primary goal is engagement, which you’ll measure by the number of users interacting with the content on your app. So the app launches, but you’re not seeing the results you’d like. Taking a look at the quantitative data–– who visits the site (are they your target demographic?), where they come from, what your bounce rate is on each page, etc.–– can tell you where you’re losing users.

Looking at the qualitative data, perhaps by watching someone use the site, could reveal what you’ve overlooked. For instance, there may be a button on a page that’s too small to catch a user’s attention, so they’re confused on what to do next, and they close the app. You now have an explanation for why quantitative data told you the bounce rate for that page was high. Take these findings into consideration to optimize your campaign for ultimate success.

A good case study for optimization was during Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign. Throughout the course of the campaign, Obama’s Digital Team executed about 500 A/B tests in a 20 month period. As a result of this constant testing and optimizing, donation conversions increased almost 50% and sign up conversions increased a whopping 161%. Here are some of the tools and methods they used:

There are many other great tools and programs available to help you optimize your digital efforts for success, including:

  • Verify App to collect and analyze user feedback on your designs
  • Morae to capture audio and on-screen activity
  • UX Recorder to record user actions and reactions using the front camera of a smartphone
  • Attention Wizard to generate attention heatmaps
  • User Testing to capture video reactions of real people using your website

Bringing data into your design goes far beyond looking at a few metrics and analytics. Examining data holistically is one of the best methods to ensure a campaign’s success and to fully understand why something is or is not working.

Still not convinced? Go ahead, ask us why on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below.