System Usability Score (SUS)
We start analysis of an existing product (for a new market or to correct an existing one) by looking at its System Usability Score (SUS). SUS provides a faster and less expensive way to assess the usability—and learnability—of a system than traditional usability studies.
SUS consists of a 10 item questionnaire with responses based on a Likert scale. Example questions include:
- I think that I would like to use this system frequently.
- I found the system unnecessarily complex.
- I think that I would need the support of a technical person to be able to use this system.
The resulting SUS Score can be anywhere from 0-100 (the average is 68). This can quickly reveal your customer’s perception of your app’s usability and allows us to benchmark it against other products in the industry.
SUS is also very helpful for comparing between old and new experiences, or between the competitor’s and your own product or designs.
It’s important not to consider just a product perspective when making product usability decisions. When we typically find a core reason for customer churn the solution is embedded across all aspects of the business—legal, sales, marketing, product, development—and should be considered from a holistic perspective.
In addition to SUS Scores, which tell us where there are problem areas, we also recommend light user research either through brief interviews with existing customers. Their team members, who ideally have recently used the system, are usually very willing to share their opinions on your product. While you can perform many kinds of research here, we recommend simple formative research that guides the user through what matters most to them.
To start, simply ask about their onboarding experience as it pertains to using the product. Let them lead the discussion by asking open-ended questions that has no right or wrong answer. We suggest later corroborating their feedback with data using a tool like FullStory, which records (and analyzes) full user sessions for more context.
Once themes develop from the qualitative feedback (usually after as little as 5 surveys), put together a hypothesis and use quantitative data tools to capture results across the entire software user base. At Vaporware we recommend a mix of tools depending on the client-side system, but start gathering data with Pendo or Heap.
These are tools worth starting with, as they capture all user action data and allow you to retroactively search for events that occured, instead of waiting multiple weeks for new data to come in.
If you’re wrangling multiple user data sources, we recommend using a tool like Segment that acts both as a tag manager (requiring developer integration only once) and a data pipeline tool.