The Mixology of Measurement

Johan Verhaegen

UX Strategist

Made good money today? Customers happy?

The first question will not be so difficult to answer fairly accurately. You can probably pull up the day’s sales figures on your screen in no time.

The second question is a bit trickier. Do you really know whether your customers are happy? Your sales figures won’t provide a conclusive answer to that question. As a customer, I’ve bought a number of things while I wasn’t very happy with the available offer, the buying process or the service I received. That happened in physical shops as well as on the web. And so my purchase helped to increase turnover, even though I didn’t have an excellent customer experience.

In your ‘real’ store, the one made of bricks, you can use mystery shoppers to gain more insight in customer satisfaction. Or you can assess the buying experience by asking your actual customers to give you their opinion as they leave the store. In your web shop, you’ll need a different approach.


All-seeing eye?

Luckily, there are some interesting solutions to help you with this. Modern analytics software will help you reveal scrolling patterns, mouse activity or finger taps, based on which you can conclude how easy or hard it is for your customers to navigate through your shop.

Take Hotjar for example, an analytics and feedback tool that is very popular at the moment.
It allows you to check whether your visitors are getting lost, whether they’re really reading your content, or clicking the ‘right’ buttons, etc. With Hotjar, you’ll get that all-seeing eye to observe every individual visitor.

Sounds incredible, but let me put things in perspective. Just because you can see what is happening, doesn’t mean you’ll immediately know why it’s happening. For the latter question, these analysis tools also have the answer: it is perfectly possible to gather feedback about the why of it all, through so-called feedback polls (pop-ups with multiple choice questions) and surveys (questionnaires).


… anyone with even the slightest training in research, will immediately raise an eyebrow at this. Users who answer questions and complete surveys online display reported behavior, which can differ considerably – even more than you might think – from real behavior. You will learn something from their answers, but you’ll also miss out on a lot. In addition, it’s particularly difficult to really get to the heart of the matter.

That’s why we use probing during face-to-face research. This technique requires you to ask further questions, based on the answers you’ve been given, in order to reveal the fundamental causes of a problem.

Is that impossible when you use online enquiries? No, but there’s a very good chance you’ll only get half of what you want. And I do assume you would want to avoid that.



GOOB! = Get Out Of the Building!
NIHITO! = Nothing Important Happens In The Office!

These 2 acronyms should be displayed on your office walls, right in front of your face actually. Or make them your screen wallpaper, if you’re a digital nomad.

Most often, you’ll gain no insight just from staring at heatmap diagrams, survey results or feedback forms. The one indispensable element to help you find out what’s really going on, is talking to people. IRL. In Real Life.

Right, we’ll just use Skype or Webex, you say? Sure, you can. You could also do a doctor’s visit that way. Or a parent-teacher meeting. Or a date. What I’m trying to say is, online isn’t exactly the same experience as offline. Online you’ll miss those subtle nuances, body language, context. And those elements are essential.

For example, I sometimes get really annoyed by the following things, but I wouldn’t be so quick to mention them on a feedback form:

  • That annoying automatic carousel on your homepage: the product I’m interested in will always disappear just when I wanted to click on it.
  • Your lack of combined search options: if I’m looking for cartridges for my type of printer, I’ll probably manage. But finding a new printer to fit the cartridges I had already bought? That’s a lot harder!

And yet, I’m not a difficult person, really. Invite me to a live user test of your website, with an interesting incentive, and I’ll happily tell you why this and why that. You’ll also find out a lot more about me than what I would type into your little dialog window (“max 120 characters”!).

Of course, live user testing can’t be scaled-up to thousands of website visitors. But as every UX professional knows, testing a small group of representative users will tell you a great deal. Combine that with the use of analytics and feedback tools, and you’ll be right on track.


Gin & Tonic

Or whiskey and coke. Or Campari and orange juice. Well, you get my drift. Any good mixologist knows how to get the proportions just right, to make the perfect cocktail.

The best strategy to find out if your customers are happy and whether you’re offering a good experience or not, is also to get the proportions of quantitative and qualitative measurement just right:

  • Quantitative by continuously measuring behavior, using tools such as Hotjar
  • Qualitative by regularly getting out of the building to actually talk to your customers

Once you’ve got that combination down to a fine art, you might just be the UX mixologist of the year!


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