How to make impactful things

The best ideas on prioritization and decisions on what to do next.

HEART Framework

HEART

Combined methods to define metrics reflecting UX quality and project goals.

HEART—UX metrics categories.
  • Happiness—user attitudes collected via survey.
  • Engagement—user involvement measured via behavioral proxies.
  • Adoption—the number of new users of a product/feature.
  • Retention—the rate of existing users’ return.
  • Task success—behavioral metrics of UX (efficiency, effectiveness, error rate).
Goals-Signals-Metrics—process transforming categories into metrics.
  • Goals—Identify the goals clearly.
  • Signals—Map goals to lower-level signals sensitive to changes in design.
  • Metrics—Refine signals into metrics to track or use in an A/B test.

HEART UX Priorities

HEART
Features
All

Prioritize design ideas and features to improve user experience.

What a priority matrix is

A priority matrix is a management tool for determining the development vector where priorities are visually divided into four (or more) quadrants.

There are matrices for personal time management and complex business projects. Most of them have derived from the Eisenhower matrix created to manage personal tasks.

A prioritized backlog visually divided into 2x2 matrix in Ducalis.io

When to use a priority matrix

Use an action priority matrix when you have limited resources and you want to distribute them rationally to maximize performance and ROI.

Placing backlog tasks into four quadrants will help you visualize their impact on the main business objectives. Focus the team efforts on one of the four quadrants to have a clear understanding of where you’re heading, what results, and when to expect.

How the quadrants work

One of the most efficient and easy to use is the 2x2 matrix. It consists of two evaluation criteria: one positive (e.g., Value, Impact, or Revenue) and one negative(e.g., Effort, Costs, or Risk).

Tasks evaluated by the criteria are divided into four quadrants:

  • Quadrant 1—high positive score and low negative score.
    This quadrant is often called Quick Wins, and its tasks are low-hanging fruit that will bring you positive results immediately. Most likely, you should do these tasks first.
  • Quadrant 2—high positive score and high negative score.
    Here are your Major Projects that won’t bring immediate results but are strategically valuable and should be considered on your roadmap.
  • Quadrant 3—low positive score and low negative score.
    These are so-called Fill-Ins—cheap solutions with no significant impact. These tasks should be further discussed and implemented only when you have extra resources.
  • Quadrant 4—low positive score and high negative score.
    These are Thankless Tasks. They bring little to no value and cost you a lot. Delete them or reconsider the solution to become more valuable.

How to create and use a priority matrix

1. Think of what is currently important to your business to come up with appropriate criteria.

Do you have deadlines, and time is critical? Or you must avoid risks at all costs?

Two criteria are enough for a fast and simple prioritization. Yet, they aren’t enough for complex projects where you must consider and juggle multiple stages of user behavior or business objectives. We in Ducalis.io estimate all the vital elements for our product and just filter the matrix by the criteria we need more focus on at some point in time.

We hide some criteria to consider tasks influencing only the objective important now.

2. Decide on the score range.

What numbers will your team use when estimating the criteria?

Each criterion should be evaluated by the same numbers with prescribed interpretation. We use numbers from 0 to 3 where 0—no impact, 1—low impact, 2—medium impact, 3—high impact.

We use criteria tooltips so that we don't have to keep in mind what they and the scores mean.

3. Estimate all the necessary tasks together with the team.

Who takes part in the project and can bring a unique perspective to the table? Does the project require only engineers or designers and copywriters’ efforts as well?

Considering each task by the whole team strengthens your shared understanding and gives the best prioritization results. In our team, managers evaluate feature Reach and Revenue, engineers and UX/UI—Development Time, and everybody must estimate Activation, Retention, and two product-specific criteria, Speed and Collaboration.

Most of the criteria we evaluate together to keep our shared understanding solid, and specific ones we leave to experts.

4. Study and discuss the prioritization results.

Why have these features made it to the top? Do you all agree they are most valuable now and must be implemented?

Never take the prioritization result into work unquestioningly. Prioritization is a tool to help you make the right decisions and not make them instead of you. Discuss your top priorities with the team at the planning meeting and make sure you all understand what must be done, why this way, and why it’s important.

To Sum Up

A priority matrix is simple and efficient. You can make it far more powerful by using automation tools. Ducalis.io allows you to create a complex prioritization framework you can use both as a weighted decision matrix and action priority matrix and switch the criteria focus in no time.

Try our matrix templates. Free to sign up and free to use. No credit cards. Just jump in and prioritize for your growth.

HEART and Goals—Signals—Metrics is a popular methodology developed by Google aiming to help teams measure and improve user experience.

In this article, we’re going to discuss the framework, how to use it for team brainstorming, and prioritizing better UX decisions.

What is HEART Framework

HEART is an acronym for Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention, and Task Success. These are categories that help to define user-centered metrics for product goals achievements.

Happiness

Happiness covers attitudinal subjective metrics to define users’ overall satisfaction. This includes visual appeal, ease of use, or willingness to share or recommend the product.

Question: How do users feel about your product?

Examples: user surveys, NPS responses.

Engagement

Engagement comprises metrics to define the level of user involvement with the product—frequency, intensity, and depth.

Question: How often and how extensively do people use the product?

Examples: average session duration, average session frequency.

Adoption

Adoption focuses on metrics that track the numbers of new users signed up and started using the product during a certain period of time.

Question: How many new users have registered and engaged with the product during the last seven days/month?

Examples: registration rate, download rate

Retention

Retention focuses on metrics that help to understand the rate of users returning to your product over longer periods of time.

Question: What percentage of users are returning to the product after 3/6/12 months?

Examples: churn rate, subscription renewal rate

Task Success

Task Success includes metrics showing that users can complete their tasks and achieve their goals successfully.

Question: Can users perform the necessary actions efficiently and effectively?

Examples: error rate, task duration. 

How to Use Goals—Signals—Metrics Process

Goals—Signals—Metrics is a process to help brainstorm what your team is trying to achieve by shipping new features or designs. You should define together your product goals and how you can track them and measure progress. Frameworks like HEART, AARRR, WSJF, or others help by prompting articulation of goals. Using frameworks doesn’t require using all their criteria. You can pick a few from different and combine them into one uniquely yours. Don’t try to fit criteria that don’t resonate with your product.

Step 1: Goals

The key step is to articulate your goals. Together with the team, ask yourselves: ‘What is that you want to achieve?’ It’s your broad objective, like what you want your users to experience or accomplish or your business to achieve. Write down everything important to users and business but remember that you can’t work towards all of them at once. Choose 2-4 goals to focus on during the next time period, like quarter or sprint.

Looking at framework metrics will help to stimulate group discussion and produce ideas. Below you can see our examples with criteria from HEART, AARRR, DHM, WSJF, and others.

Examples of popular criteria and their articulated goals.
Examples of popular criteria and their articulated goals.

Step 2: Signals

The next question on the agenda is ‘What signals will indicate that you’re meeting the goal?’ Decide what actions, behaviors, or events can say whether you’re making progress towards your goals, stagnating, or deteriorating. Try to find something specific, something that will change only because of the goal’s progress and not other unrelated reasons. For example, ‘users spending more time in the app’ may mean that you’re improving the Engagement, but it may also say that the app works slowly and users waste a lot of time waiting. Don’t forget you can also consider failures as signals—they can be easier to track, and they’re sometimes more informative.

Step 3: Metrics

The last step is to translate the signals you’ve chosen into metrics that you can collect and track on the dashboard. Think, ‘How can we transform the signals into quantifiable data?’ Try to use average ratios or percentages as raw counts depend on the total number of users and may not be useful or indicative. Don’t forget to make notes of the deployed changes so that you clearly see what has caused a spike or a downfall of the metrics. In time you may see insightful trends about metrics’ co-dependencies, for example, if you’re improving Engagement, Retention also shows better results, or enhanced Task Success causes lower Happiness.

How to Use HEART for Prioritization

Prioritization by the metrics you consider important is vital because while estimating each idea by each criterion, you make it easier to:

  • Understand what you will influence and predict the results;
  • Decide what you should do next to meet your goals.

1. Consider Costs

The first thing you should do is to add negative factors that must be considered for improved ROI.

For example, human resources are always limited and cost a lot, so you should definitely make sure you get the most out of the person-hours. Add Effort as an evaluation criterion and ask people who’ll do the job to estimate how much time the implementation will require.

You may also need to consider some other extra costs or risks.

2. Decide on Significance

As we’ve already mentioned, you shouldn’t try to take into account everything that’s valuable to your product at once. Yet your backlog is full of ideas influencing different goals, and priorities can sometimes change suddenly. For us, there are two ways to estimate all the factors but still be able to devote the team's attention and energy to what’s critical right now and tune out the rest.

  • Criteria Weights

Applying weights to estimation criteria allows you to control which of them are significant at the moment. Weights are easy to adjust thus you can quickly change what’s on your priority list without re-evaluation.

  • Criteria Filters

Criteria filters allow you to switch the criteria on/off and recalculate the priority matrix quadrants in a few clicks. The matrix is also great for visualizing how easily you’ll get the value thanks to the Effort axis.

Evaluate all the important criteria and just filter those needed the most focus at a certain time, or if you need to find tasks pushing a certain metric.

3. Describe Criteria Clearly and Choose Estimation Scores

The better you describe what each criterion means and what exactly you’re expecting an idea to impact, the easier you’ll make the estimation process. Here you can describe the goals more fully with all the significant details. You can put them down in the form of bullet points or questions.

For example:

Engagement:
Will it make the product more enjoyable for users to engage with it more?
Will it help to increase the time users spend interacting with the product?

Then, decide on the numbers to use for estimation. Fibonacci or Exponential are great sequences to use. We use the 0—5 range. The numbers are not that important as how you explain the gradation meaning.

For example:

0—5 range:
0 — No impact
1 — Minimal
2 — Low
3 — Moderate
4 — Considerable
5 — Very High

The general rule of thumb is to ensure every team member understands the goals, and the score scale is a bit less subjective.

Here is our HEART prioritization template—you can try it out in a few clicks.

Keep your backlog neat and clean and your priorities straight! Oh, and please don't tell us you still use Sheets for prioritization! 😳
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Read about other useful prioritization techniques