The Experience Score: A Tool for Evaluating Digital Experiences
Jun 30, 2014
I’m a user experience designer regardless of whether or not I’m sitting at my desk in our awesome office. I like to observe the little details in all of the experiences that I have in life. Whether it’s a difficult to scan restaurant menu or a door with a handle that says “push” or a poorly designed sandwich that’s impossible to eat with just two hands… I notice. I have the same discerning pair of eyes when it comes to my work, too. Especially in situations where a healthy amount of user research and testing aren’t part of the budget.
A couple months ago I was asked to redesign a web site that has been slowly growing out of control for… possibly centuries. You know, the kind of site that is basically just a dumping ground for any content that any member of the team thought was relevant at one point in time. This particular site is controlled by a team of non-technical, non-web savvy people who have been contributing to it for years without thinking about design. In particular they haven’t been thinking about how much of an impact design can have on a potential customer’s experience, and therefore their bottom line. They needed help, and they knew it, so they reached out to us.
I sat down to browse the site and started thinking about ways to improve the experience. I soon realized that this particular kind of client might have a tough time truly understanding the design decisions I was about to make. Generally this kind of expert evaluation might be written up with bullet points or some other form of recommendations document, but I wanted something more thorough and insightful. Something that people could really learn from. I wanted to reveal my obsessively observant thoughts and, through that, help the client think differently. When they add, remove, or change content on their site in the future I want them to be armed with good design principles. I decided to create a tool that anyone can use to evaluate web pages in the same way that I do. It’s called The Experience Score.
The Experience Score for a particular web page is based on 5 dimensions of a digital experience: Clarity, Flow, Relevance, Utility, and Trustworthiness. A page is graded on a scale from 0 to 5 for each of the 5 dimensions and those scores are averaged. The result is The Experience Score for that page. Run this evaluation on every page of a web site and average all the scores to get a simple indicator of how delightful a site is to use. The tool looks a little boring by itself, so with the help of some fellow Centerliners I’ve created a presentation below that walks through The Experience Score in detail with some visual examples. The Experience Score template and rubric are available for download below as well. We’ve been using it in client projects for a couple months now with fantastic results.
Whether you’re a user experience professional or you’re just interested in learning how to look at a web site with a designer’s eyes, I am confident that you will find this tool to be useful and rewarding.