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Google Measures Its Own Success with HEART. You Can Too.

By | 10.18.16

The smart folks at Google use a surprisingly simple method of judging the success of their own websites. It goes by the initials HEART, and you can use it too, even without an army of data scientists backing you up.

Kerry Rodden, Senior Staff User Experience Researcher at Google, broke it all down in this article (that was turned into a nice slide show by the Digital Telepathy agency). “User Experience” = What Users See and Do on a Website.

The Google user experience people start their success measurement with the HEART framework:

  • Happiness: Are the users satisfied with their visit to the site? Best measured by a user survey.
  • Engagement: Are the users involved with the site or just passing through? Measurement might be number of visits per user per week.
  • Adoption: New users of a product or feature. Of concern to Google, which knows you’re going to come to their sites anyway and wants to get you to try something new. May be less relevant to a local business website.
  • Retention: Rate of return of users—“churn”, in other words.
  • Task Success: Did they fill out a contact form on your site? Check the locations page for your office locations?

 Rodden writes that that don’t need to measure all of these, just what’s relevant to your business. That might be just Happiness and Task Success, for instance.

Next step is to line up the HEART categories with Goals, Signals and Metrics:

Google's HEART Method for Website Metrics

image from Digital Telepathy


Rodden explains: “A common pitfall is to define your goals in terms of your existing metrics — ’well, our goal is to increase traffic to our site.’ Yes, everyone wants to do that, but how will user-experience improvements help? Are you interested in increasing the engagement of existing users or in attracting new users?”


Ask what behavior or attitude would show the goal was achieved. Rodden gives an example from her days at YouTube: If the goal is engagement with videos, the signal would be amount of time visitors spend watching videos.


Really, this is just a refined version of signals, in some form that’s measureable—like average number of minutes spent watching videos per user per day for YouTube. Rodden likes averages to give a clearer picture than raw totals.

And that’s it. Rodden’s advice is to keep it simple, limit your measuring to your top goals, and then only the numbers that you can actually use to make decisions about what works for your site.

Dex Media’s DexHub brings all your digital marketing efforts together on one platform for easy tracking of performance. 

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