Five on Design  |  Episode 40  |  May 22, 2018

How do you measure the success of design?

At some point when you get past the whole does my stuff look good enough,” and improving your craft as a designer from a visual standpoint, you may start to ask yourself are you a successful designer from a conversion or goal standpoint.

Diving into data-based design is a little more difficult. We’re going beyond what the client or the boss thinks and into how a customer or client is reacting to the design.

Measuring this isn’t too hard in most cases.

Digital platforms allow the widest array of choices. We can do things like heat mapping, eyeball tracking, click tracking, or A/B testing. There’s been a lot of great tools available made available out there that can help you with these.

On the flip side, it’s tougher with print work. Often, you’ll probably resort to some older tactics.

But before you even get to measuring something, it’s important to lay the groundwork down at the start. No matter what the data says or will say, it’s important to have everyone involved in the project working towards the same goals. Additionally, everyone should agree on a method of measuring those goals.

Aligning the goals and strategies of a project at the start helps farther down the line when things are going 100 miles per hour. Difficult spots can be a little easier if everyone knows what the aim is.

Once you’ve got the measurement process and goals figured out, you’ve got a solid path forward for the project.

Something I recommend, especially starting out with measurement tools, is don’t do too much at once. It’s easy to get muddled up in the results of a lot of data and get confused as to what’s impacting what. By isolating your testing, you can see how different things affect what you’re measuring. Once you have confidence in the reports, it’s easier to start layering on more data as you need it.

For web, this is pretty easy and straightforward.

Print gets a little more tricky. You don’t get the instant feedback, or many of the tools, that the digital space gives you.

There’s some good tricks though.

If its possible, use a special phone number. Using a unique number in an advertisement is a basic way of click tracking” it. Don’t have an extra number handy? Have the viewer ask for someone specifically or mention a special offer. It’s a trick you see on radio, but it works well for print, too.

Want to push things back to digital? Again, a unique website address can be enough to get some basic data. Like the phone, you can measure the visits to a page that’s only linked through a print piece. As a bonus, you can even see where people move from there to the rest of your website.

That said, the one thing that I’ll never go with is a QR code. I think they’re tacky. Anything that makes someone jump through hoops to use it will utlimately fail. 

At the end of the day, regardless of what method you decide on using, you should be able to track those results. You can take the data, debrief with your client or boss and use it to determine if the project was successful or where you can find new ways to improve.