UX OKRs: how to set & measure achievable design team goals
Objectives and key results (OKRs) are great goal-setting frameworks. They work well in almost every field, including sales, marketing, and customer service.
Design is… a little different. It’s difficult to quantify and measure the impact of design on greater business outcomes. On a design team level, however, they can be helpful for engaging designers around a common objective.
UX OKR success involves looking at your design team, and setting individual key results that contribute to an overarching design team goal. It may not look exactly like the metric-focused, results-driven approach taken by other teams, but OKRs can be just as useful for design teams as everybody else.
UX goal-setting is easier said than done and there’s no one-size-fits-all playbook. The good news is we’ve got you covered. In this chapter, discover what UX OKRs are, how to create them for your team, and examples to skyrocket outcomes.
Understanding UX OKRs
UX design OKRs are measurable objectives and results that you can track and achieve during a specific time frame, usually a quarter. Objectives are qualitative, aspirational goals, whereas key results measure progress towards those goals quantitatively.
Here’s an example:
Objective: drive additional business revenue with an improved checkout experience
- KR-1: 20% improvement in conversion rate
- KR-2: 10% decrease in cart abandonment
One important aspect of OKRs that didn’t quite make the acronym cut are activities—the steps you take to achieve key results. Using our above example, activities could look like:
- Update CTAs copy and placement across the website
- Design multiple checkout experiences and test with multivariate testing
- Re-design product pages with conversion best practices in mind
- Design a progress bar for the checkout experience
- Reduce checkout steps
- Re-design product pages with conversion best practices in mind
Your objective is your big goal; your key results are the metrics that determine your success in moving towards that goal; and your activities are the actions you take to realize your key results.
UX OKRs can be great for setting the team’s focus, managing priorities, and monitoring progress tangibly. UX management define and prioritize quarterly OKRs for the UX design team in connection to business goals, like revenue and user satisfaction.
So, that’s how OKRs are used in design teams—but how can you apply this to your team?
Creating achievable & effective OKRs for your team
Writing effective UX team OKRs starts with setting actionable, ambitious, and time-bound goals. Tracking three to five quantifiable results for each goal will help your team move in the right direction.
Implementing UX OKRs
Bigger company goals help guide your user experience goals. Your first job is to understand the priorities of the larger group, regardless of whether you’re sitting in the product or marketing team.
Check out the step-by-step process below to get started.
1. Identify high-priority objectives
Businesses are often trying to solve a bigger puzzle of getting more revenue and users. UX teams play a huge role in this—but solutions are business-specific and require in-depth research. UX teams should aim to set OKRs that align with company-wide OKRs—the objective should be the same or similar, but key results and activities will be UX-specific.
2. Establish the key results
Key results tell you whether or not you’re successfully working towards your goals. Good key results not only measure progress but help you define the path to the finish line. Look into metrics you already track before setting these results. That way, you can easily set the starting benchmark and the target value you want to achieve.
Make sure to use clear statements so everyone has clarity on the goals and results.
3. Create and prioritize UX projects. Converting the objectives you choose into projects will help you track progress and course-correct when necessary. When unsure about what to prioritize, you can use frameworks like Google’s HEART framework. The five metrics in this framework help you track:
- Happiness: measures which projects will have the biggest impact on user attitude or satisfaction.
- Engagement: shows you the most popular products among users.
- Adoption: tells more about projects that’ll attract new users.
- Retention: reveals which projects are key to retaining existing users.
- Task success: tests the success of projects against the total time you spend on them.
Now, let’s look at how you can track to measure UX progress.
Measuring UX OKR Progress
Setting and implementing OKRs is only half the battle—organizations also need to track and measure them to improve processes and outcomes. Check out some of the ways you can measure the success of UX OKRs.
1. Measure OKRs with grading
OKR grades measure the completion of each objective on a scale of 0.0 to 1.0—with the latter denoting accomplishment of the objective. Some companies also assign colors to different grade ranges.
2. Measure OKRs by goals and work progress
Another way to measure UX OKR success is to compare the current progress value—such as a KPI metric—against the starting value—the benchmark KPI metric value. You then compare it to your target metric value using this formula:
(Current value - Starting value) / (Target value - Starting value) x 100
Start by finding the progress rates of all key results. Then, find the average to know how you’re doing against the OKR you set.
The progress percentage will help you monitor whether your goals are too ambitious—you won’t hit the OKR targets even after completing most of the work if your goals are overly ambitious. It’s best to consider work progress in these situations and look at whether you’re doing the right work.
3. Assign weights to key results to measure OKR progress
Some key results will be more important than others for reaching the bigger goal. In such cases, you can distribute weight among key results to signify their impact. Assigning weights to key results helps you prioritize tasks too.
For example, if you’re trying to improve inbound lead conversion rates, here’s what the key results and their weightage may look like.
Prioritizing tasks can help you measure the impact of each key result on the overarching design team objective.
Now, let’s dive into what agile UX means and how it helps your team adjust OKRs as part of ongoing iteration and feedback cycles.
Integrating UX OKRs into your team’s development
Successful businesses continuously improve and release features to ensure their product is indispensable to users. They treat design as an iterative and collaborative process instead of a stand-alone operation with no help from other teams. This involves incorporating regular design meetings to foster communication, engage the team in various design activities, and gather input from various stakeholders. The approach they follow is known as agile UX—a framework for adopting agile software development principles in UX and UI design.
In these agile teams, you often set OKRs and adjust them to remain realistic. But how? Keep reading.
- Align with strategic goals: so everyone knows the business value of their work. That'll make your team own their work and be more involved in collaboration and iterations.
- Conduct agile ceremonies: or cadences to learn what’s not working and come up with a solution during the next iteration cycle. By setting OKRs, agile teams can evaluate progress promptly and embrace changes when needed.
- Measuring outcomes with OKRs: helps an agile team track progress, evaluate outcomes, and gain visibility into whether the team is moving in the right direction or not.
Overall, introducing OKRs in an agile setting is great for enhanced transparency and progress visibility. The ability to shift priorities quickly enables your team to improve with continuous feedback and focus on what matters.
OKR Examples to skyrocket your team
OKRs differ across an organization, but they usually work toward a similar, organizational goal. Think of it as a soccer team—the main objective is to win games, but each player has role-specific objectives of their own.
Before we dive into some examples, let’s look at what these goals commonly look like for UX teams:
- Boost revenue: by creating user-friendly product designs that drive user adoption and increase user satisfaction.
- Generate marketing-qualified leads (MQLs): with new landing page prototypes that address existing usability issues and get at least 70% positive feedback from user testing sessions.
- Minimize churn rates: by showing the product’s value early on and addressing recurring issues users face.
- Improve brand image: with consistent visuals that focus on usability and create aha moments for users.
- Launch new products: that provide meaningful experiences to users while solving their pain points and driving business value for the company.
Nothing is set in stone when it comes to UX OKRs. They can be as basic as designing landing pages to drive action or as complex as a complete feature redesign.
We’ve collected some examples to inspire your own UX OKRs—take a look.
Example 1: OKRs for streamlining graphic design processes
This example shows how your UX team can save time on internal design tickets by rolling out a self-serve graphic assets library.
Example 2: OKRs for improving website performance
In this example, you can see how to set OKRs for boosting landing page performance, improving conversions, and reducing bounce rate on the website.
Example 3: OKRs for improving website performance
Here’s a good template to use for researching target personas and their needs for rebranding an existing website.
Example 4: OKRs for successful product launch
In this template, you can learn more about setting key results such as increasing sign-ups, trials, and demos with a new product.
Final thoughts on UX team OKRs
By setting clear and measurable OKRs, UX leaders provide direction and focus for their teams. Setting design OKRs can be tricky because of the creative, subjective nature of UX work. Plus, it can be difficult to monitor how design affects wider-scale goals. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing, however.
Setting UX OKRs help guide your team and ensures you’re working on projects that contribute to overarching company goals. They help you align with other teams to drive growth in your organization.
Identifying your teams' strengths and weaknesses is key for setting OKRs. It enables you to assign the right team members to each activity, but assessing your team manually can be time-consuming and ineffective.
As UX managers set ambitious goals for improving user experience, they may identify skill gaps or capacity limitations within their existing team. In such cases, expanding the team becomes essential to achieve the desired outcomes. Hiring new designers with specialized expertise or additional resources can enhance the team's capabilities and enable them to tackle more significant challenges.
Additionally, if hiring new team members proves to be a costly endeavor, UX leaders can explore alternative approaches to enhance the team's skills and capabilities. Investing in training programs, courses, conferences, or mentorship opportunities can be a cost-effective way to upskill existing team members.
Try Uxcel Teams today to see how you can upskill and assess your design team to find top talent and identify individual strengths. The courses, challenges, assessments, and more help ensure your team learning and improving—helping you work towards key results and objectives.