Other than time on task, error rates, memorability and use of help; what other empirical measures of performance can one measure an interface by?

Please expand your answers with real-world experience, and/or references to articles that describe the process of measuring the particulars of the performance and benefits.

I understand measures will be behavioural in nature, so I am happy to hear cognitive psychology techniques too.

  • 2
    Might want to ask on Cognitive Sciences but be specific about what you want to measure in what sort of task.
    – Ben Brocka
    Feb 4, 2012 at 20:34
  • It's a thought-provoking but very broad question (i.e. SE isn't the best place for it). I suggest looking at process analysis methodologies because there're some similarities in design approaches.
    – dnbrv
    Feb 4, 2012 at 20:48
  • @dnbrv it's answerable as there are specific measures used and accepted by HCI and cognitive psychology researchers. A study's results are only as good as it's measures, and too many usability studies have terrible measures. This however is why I feel this would be better answered by researchers in the cognitive sciences rather than people conducting usability tests as those results are usually qualitative.
    – Ben Brocka
    Feb 4, 2012 at 23:41
  • @BenBrocka I am looking for ideas from both sides of the coin. Results don’t have to be quantitative, I am looking for empirical measures after all. I will certainly post in Cog. Psych. too though, thanks.
    – DigiKev
    Feb 5, 2012 at 12:54

2 Answers 2


I want to start with just saying that if you only measure the performance based on time on task etc you will not get the correct picture of how sucessfull the web site is. The most important thing is to look at how the visitor perceive the usefulness. People could have a pretty lousy success rate but still feel that the web site is helping them better than other web site. User interface engineering have studied this and wrote the following article about actual and perceived speed.

If you want more ways to measure the performance, you could use the WebQual framework which measure the web site quality based on Usability, Empathy, Trust, Information and Design. It is developed by University of Bath and the University of East Anglia. You could read about it and copy the methodology here

Constantinides did a meta study to find out what elements did influence the user experience and divided the elements into The Marketing mix, Aesthetics, Trust building, Interactivity and Usability. (The impact of web experience on virtual buing behaviour: an empirical study, Journal of Customer Behaviour, 2005)

All these elements affect the perceived usefulness of the site by the visitor.


The most important one is missing: success rate. Though it depends on scenario, I'd say that usually simple fail/succeed is enough for this metric.

  • Aye, I normally rate this on easy, medium, hard, assist or fail. I would be interested to hear you expand upon your measure of this performance criteria.
    – DigiKev
    Feb 5, 2012 at 13:00

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