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What is the HEART framework?

Last updated

13 April 2023

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Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Jean Kaluza

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The HEART framework, designed by researchers at Google, is a useful tool for better understanding user experience metrics. What is the HEART framework, what is it meant for, and how do you make the most of it? 

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What is the HEART framework?

The basic idea of HEART is to give designers a simple and actionable set of metrics that give you a clear picture of user experience. HEART stands for happiness, engagement, adoption, retention, and task success. These five elements, especially when combined, are effective measures of user experience. By applying this model, you can identify where your UX needs attention and what steps are necessary to improve it.

What are the origins of the HEART framework?

Google developed HEART in response to a widespread problem—the difficulty many businesses had measuring UX. Many UX tests, such as tracking the amount of time users spend on a page or the length of time it takes to complete a task, were focused on that specific metric. 

HEART was developed in 2010 to make it easier for teams to get a better, more holistic view of UX. Rather than measuring specific tasks, HEART provides a broader view of user experience. 

What is the HEART framework used for?

The HEART framework is a straightforward way to measure and improve UX. This includes a number of factors that affect how customers interact with products. For an example of how a company uses HEART, see Contentsquare's report on G-Star.

Why is UX important?

User experience is concerned with several key factors:

Ability to achieve a goal

Whether users want to edit a photo, connect with a friend on a chat app, play a game, or make an online purchase, they have specific goals when using a product. 

Speed and efficiency

Even if a product makes it possible for someone to complete a task, how long it takes and how difficult it is also matters. UX tracks how easy or challenging it is for users to reach their goals. 

Responsive

Users need to be able to access websites and apps from all types of devices. One aspect of UX testing is making sure the product works on all devices, including laptops, phones, and tablets. 

Appeal

Users are not simply mechanically moving from one goal to another. They are people who want to enjoy the experience as much as possible. An essential aspect of UX is measuring aesthetic appeal and how users feel about their experience with a product. 

How does the HEART framework work?

The following are steps you need to implement when using the HEART framework.

Set goals

In order to benefit from HEART, you need to be clear about what you want to accomplish. You may have one or more goals, such as attracting more users, improving engagement, or getting more users to take advantage of a particular feature. 

Connect goals to signals

Once you've set a goal, you need to connect it with a user signal. In other words, what does the user have to do to indicate whether a goal was met or not? For example, if you want to increase engagement, more time spent using an app would be a signal. 

Identify metrics

Trackable metrics allow you to measure signals and determine whether you’re reaching your goals. Returning to the example of increasing engagement, an appropriate metric might be the average session length. 

What are the benefits of the HEART framework?

There are several benefits to using the HEART framework. 

Helps to improve ROI

By helping UX teams identify factors that improve user satisfaction, HEART can help to boost product sales and renewals. You can remove unpopular features and glitches that discourage usage.

Makes communication and reporting easier

HEART provides straightforward metrics that you can report and share with managers, supervisors, and other stakeholders

Improves focus

UX teams often collect lots of data without knowing how to interpret it. The HEART framework makes it possible to focus on the key aspects of the user experience that are most relevant.

Lets you study UX from several viewpoints

UX is not always simple. Making adjustments to one variable may affect others. For example, users may prefer having more options or features. However, adding too many options can lead to confusion, as is explained by a Bootcamp article on The Paradox of Choice

The HEART framework provides a holistic, big-picture view of UX, making it easier to balance many variables. This makes it less likely that designers will make improvements that cause unexpected problems in other areas. 

Who should use the HEART framework?

The HEART framework, as designed by Google, was originally made with software designers and developers in mind. However, you can apply the basic principles to any scenario where user experience is relevant. This includes product teams who are involved with any type of design, including physical products.

The HEART metrics

Here is a breakdown of the HEART metrics and why each is significant.

Happiness

While happiness is hard to quantify, it's a crucial aspect of UX that's easy to overlook. For a product to be successful, people have to enjoy using it. Even if people use products out of necessity rather than pleasure, people will choose the option that makes them happier. 

Engagement

Engagement refers to how much time users voluntarily spend with a product. Sometimes this doesn't really come into play, for example, if someone must use an app at work. On the other hand, if someone has a choice of products to perform a mandatory task (e.g., deciding which platform or app to use to send a message to a co-worker), engagement is still relevant. 

For social or recreational apps that people use in their free time, engagement is one of the key metrics to look at. 

Adoption

Adoption refers to the number of new users for a product. Every product must consistently attract new users for the company to grow. By itself, adoption doesn't necessarily reflect UX, as people may buy a product or service based on a marketing campaign or a generous free trial. 

However, though marketing may bring in many users, good UX is what helps them become champions of your product and refer others without the help of marketing. The point where marketing and UX cross-over is where adoption happens.

Retention

You don't only want people to adopt your product—you want them to continue using it. Retention measures how long users continue to be active over a certain period of time. You can measure retention over a period of days, weeks, months, or another interval. Retention is useful to measure relative to other metrics, especially adoption. If you have high adoption rates but low retention, you need to learn why people start using your product but don't stick with it. You can best answer metrics and blind spots like this by using qualitative UX methods.

Task success

Another fundamental metric is tracking how successful users are at completing a task. Success may be measured by whether or not the user completes the task, how long it takes, and whether the user encounters any difficulties.

You can often break tasks down into smaller tasks for more precise tracking. For example, you can define a task as a shopper completing a purchase. You can also identify smaller tasks, such as placing items into the shopping cart, entering payment information, and completing the purchase.

FAQs

How do you use HEART metrics?

You can use HEART metrics to better understand user experience and identify problems, glitches, and features that need improvement.

Does Google still use the HEART framework?

The HEART framework, although created over a decade ago, remains just as relevant today. Because it addresses evergreen issues that apply to all types of UX, the HEART framework has enduring value.

Which element of the HEART framework helps identify the product as fun and easy to use for the users?

Happiness is the key metric for identifying fun. However, engagement and retention are also relevant. 

Which team uses the HEART framework?

UX teams mainly use the HEART framework.

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