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Measuring digital impact – a starting point

This year we’ve again sponsored the UX Bristol event and the lineup of workshops was impressive. One very practical and current workshop was run by Tim Dixon, Senior UX Consultant, titled “Measuring digital impact”.

To share some of his wisdom with those who might have missed the session, we took the chance to have a chat with Tim about this topic as well as his career journey so far.

Here a few insights that could be just what you needed to measure and understand the impact of your digital projects and resources…

 

ADLIB: In a nutshell, what has been your career journey so far, leading you to where you are right now?

Tim Dixon

Tim Dixon: Starting with academic study in Experimental Psychology at University of Bristol, I then submitted my PhD thesis 10 years ago in Human Factors/HCI and had a year of postdoc position in the same department. I ran various usability studies experimentally using a task-based approach with eye tracking in Google Maps amongst other things. More recently I was Principal Consultant and Digital Lead at a socio-economic research consultancy, ERS, where I learned about evaluation and impact assessment. These two elements have now come together in my role at Nomensa as Senior UX Consultant.

ADLIB: What methodology do you suggest to measure and understand the impact of digital projects and resources?

Tim Dixon: I’ve developed a Digital Impact Framework (DIF) based on previous complementary approaches used in evaluations. My method understands impacts as stemming from the logical knock-on effects of outcomes, which themselves are the logical knock-on effect of a project’s outputs (i.e. deliverable). In addition, I’ve adopted four areas used in previous academic work to consider outputs, outcomes and impacts in relation to: innovation; internal process; social/audience; and economic perspectives.

ADLIB: During your workshop you defined a set of perspectives for analysing digital impact. Could you share what they are and explain the purpose and value of each?

Tim Dixon: So the four perspectives outlined (innovation, internal process, social/audience and economic) can be viewed as follows:

  • innovation (i.e. value derived from enabling the creation of novel products or processes etc.);
  • internal process (i.e. value derived internally for organisations through efficiencies etc.);
  • social/audience (i.e. value from understanding the user, reaching new audiences, stakeholder evangelism etc.);
  • economic (i.e. increased productivity, net additional impacts on regional growth etc.)

There is a causal linkage through the four perspectives, with innovation leading to internal process improvements, which in turn lead to external social/audiences impacts that finally lead to economic impacts. In using the approach it is also important to understand which impacts the organisation prioritises, as for example a charity may prioritise social impacts over economic.

ADLIB: During your session you used this approach to then pull it all together, towards digital strategy mapping. Can you explain how this framework can assist businesses in prioritising digital activities to maximise impact?

Tim Dixon: The Digital Impact Framework (DIF) can be used at the very start of a client’s digital journey to help them consider and define what impacts they want to achieve from undertaking the planned work.

It provides a tool for engaging with top-level decision makers who will work closely with the practitioner to define ‘Specific Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely’ (SMART) target metrics across the four perspectives. The DIF will then be dipped into at regular occasions throughout the project with targets updated and new factors accounted for as they arise.

This means it is a live, evolving approach rather than static. With this in mind, it also allows for the practitioner to get back in touch with a client e.g. 6-12 months after the project finishes to explore how impacts have developed. This is clearly of value, both for the practitioner and their client to prove the value of what’s been done.

Thank you Tim for sharing.

 

About Tim and UX Bristol: Tim’s background is within socio-economic research at ERS, leding evaluation, impact assessment and strategic review studies of digital projects and programmes in England, Wales and Scotland. Tim Dixon is a Senior UX Consultant at Nomensa. Tim explores big picture digital thinking alongside specific usability and user testing that underpins this.

For the past 10 years, since completing his PhD in HCI, he’s explored the world looking for novel ways to apply this understanding of human behaviour and cognition. From training in big business in Barcelona to literal fieldwork in Western Australia, his personal experiences have informed his research and consultancy approach. You can get in touch with Tim if you’d like more information in regards to the above, his approaches or to explore some of his thoughts and learnings with him.

UX Bristol 2017 was a day of UX workshops. Leading practitioners  shared hands-on UX techniques in a friendly and sociable setting.