Quantifying UX

Design Challenge

The Experience Design I544 class taught by professor Erik Stolterman has a new design challenged every week that needs to be worked out. One fine week the prompt before me was to choose a particular experience in an app, software or real world and "quantify" the experience in the form of numerical data. I was credited for my work in the class by my peers and the professor.


I chose the onboarding experience (learnability) of a user to be measured. The subject was an iPhone application, 9GAG, which  was a contemporary choice. In hindsight, I personally criticized their frequent design changes which was pushed to the public and an interface design filled with several visual metaphors. This exercise served as testing ground to empirically test my notions of the app. I started by consuming popular literature in the field of quantitative user research.


I attributed learnability of the app  to how well they map to the user's mental model and how well the information architecture is structured to assit it. The following are the key attributes that invoke the respective questions:

1. Visual Metaphor - How well the app's visual metaphors map to the user's mental model ?

2. Primary Navigation Feature - How fast the user learns to use app's navigation mechanism ?

3. Types of Artifacts - How many various kinds of artifacts (memes) does the user identify in his initial interaction ?


A survey was deviced based on the above questions. Drawing from popular literatrure on Questionnaire Design, I took care so as not to introduce any kind of bias by the questions nor their order of precedence. The survey reached out to five people who filled up a paper questionnaire before interacting with the app. Then the app was introduced to them, they had their first experience with the app and again the same questionnaire was asked to be filled again. During this whole time the I kept taking notes conducting a sort of contextual analysis and kept measurement of time it took to perform several functions.


85% of visual metaphor (icons and symbols) identified after having exprienced the app for the first time.The average time taken to learn the vital navigation features of the app was 3.6 minutes. Two out of three artifacts (types of memes) were identified after the first experience