Product Management

The Ultimate Guide to Google’s HEART Framework For Product Managers

There are many frameworks used by Product teams for problem-solving and prioritization.  In general, the way to think about Product Management frameworks is that they are only a starting point to help structure information for a team. 

There is no right or wrong framework. 

Product teams more often than not will create their own version of a framework that works best for their team. But it definitely helps to know about these proven frameworks as it can give you a quick start when data and information are fuzzy. 

One framework, I’ve found useful is the HEART framework. The HEART framework was created by Kerry Rodden when he was the lead UX researcher at Google. 

It was created to help narrow the focus of the UX team and evaluate any aspect of UX according to five user-centric metrics namely HEART. 

Overview of the Heart Framework

HEART is an acronym that stands for five broad categories and they are

  • H for Happiness and it helps answer the “How do users feel about your product?”
  • E stands for Engagement – “Are people using or engaging with the product?”
  • A for Adoption – “How many people become regular active users?”
  • R for Retention – “What percentage of users are staying with the product?”
  • T for task success – “Can users achieve their goal or task quickly and easily?”

I hope that quick overview was helpful.  Now let’s talk about how to use the framework. 

H – Happiness Metrics

Let’s start with Happiness metrics which help us understand user satisfaction or perceived user value for a product. 

For B2B products, this is usually understood from metrics such as NPS (Net Promoter Score).  Another indication is the CSAT score for the customer support tickets raised by customers. 

Customers in B2B will have different questions and concerns, it is the responsibility of the support and product team to ensure they are responded to on time and accurately. 

In the B2C context, we will look at metrics such as Ratings, Reviews, Referrals, Complaints.

Ratings and Reviews can give an indication of our tech as well as supply. 

Let’s take an example of a fitness marketplace. You have fitness coaches that teach on the marketplace and the coaching platform which is the tech that delivers the experience to the customer. So we would need to look out for both the tech rating and the coach rating to ensure we have the right supply and the right experience for the user. 

Next, we have a referral as a metric which is a very clear indication that users are proud of the product, find value in the product, and are willing to recommend it to other users. 

Lastly, we have complaints which will give us an indication of happiness levels. 

E  – Engagement Metrics

The engagement metric in the HEART framework helps us understand “How often are people coming back to use and engage with our product?”. 

For this in B2B products, you will look at the key actions performed in the product. Some examples here would be the 

  • Number of Meetings conducted in Zoom 
  • Number of messages delivered or conversations created in a chat or collaboration product such as Slack 

In the B2C context, if we take an example of Spotify we will look at metrics such as 

  • Number of unique users
  • Session length or time spent on the app
  • Number of songs played
  • The number of times a song was played 

A – Adoption Metrics

Let’s move on to the next metric category Adoption. 

With this, we try to understand “How many people are not only engaging but also becoming regular or active users”

For B2B products such as Slack we will look at  – % of users adopting a new feature which would be a threshold number of times a month. 

For B2C products, we will look at the # of activated users over a period of time. Activation is something each product will define on its own. For Spotify, it could be the action of a user downloading the app and playing their first song.

We will also look at metrics such as the number of Daily Active Users (DAU) or Monthly Active Users (MAU) in the app.

R – Retention Metrics

”Retention is to keep a track of customers returning to your product for a certain period of time”

For B2B products such as Zoom, metrics that indicate customer retention would be 

  • Monthly / Annual Churn 
  • Renewals Rate or the percentage of customers/subscribers are renewing or continuing to pay for your product for a period of time  

For B2C products such as Spotify or marketplaces such as Amazon, you would look at 

  • Monthly subscribers,
  • Number of users placing repeat orders
  • Inactive users or users  who have not performed any action over a period of time 

Based on these metrics, you can identify the customer segments and actions necessary to improve the experience. You can send them nudges/offers to reactivate them. 

T – Task Success Metrics

Finally, the last metric category is “Task Success”  and this helps us understand whether users can be able to achieve their goal or key task for which they came to our product quickly and easily?

For B2B products such as Zoom, this would be looking at key actions such as the number of meetings scheduled and completed. 

We could go into another level of detail here to monitor the funnel and drop-off for users who started to perform this action and try and identify if there is a particular point in their journey that can be improved or any friction point that can be removed.  

For B2C products, a similar example would be in e-commerce websites on the cart page metrics like

  • Add to Carts
  • Cart to Checkout %age
  • Checkout to Payment

We need to look at the drop-off points on this page to understand where there is friction to ensure the journey from start to end is completed. 

I hope these examples helped you understand the Heart framework. 

When should you use the HEART framework?

In the early stages of the product, where UX research findings directly give you insights into the most critical features, it’s not always necessary to use a framework to prioritize. Mainly because the size of your team, and the volume of data you are dealing with is not very high. 

However, in products with scale in larger organizations where there are competing priorities, large volumes of data, and many stakeholders, it is useful to use a proven structure like the HEART Framework to quantify the UX goals and results. 

It is also useful for product managers to quantify the business impact and ensure their teams have visibility into how they are working towards the growth of the product. 

Product Managers can use this to influence the stakeholder to prioritize UX efforts. With frameworks like these, collectively the Product Manager and the Product Experience team can create a User Experience scorecard with measurable goals and track their progress with qualitative and quantitative evidence. 

At the end of each quarter, this can help them realign and course correct and focus on the right priority for the business.

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