An essay on the Google HEART framework

In my earlier essays titled “Communicating with data” and “What gets measured gets managed”, I emphasized the importance of metrics in the life of a product manager. In forthcoming essays, I am going to introduce you to a few interesting frameworks that product managers can use for measuring the success of a product or a feature in the product. We will do a deep dive into one such framework in this essay, the Google HEART framework ( the link takes you to the original research paper published by Google experts). The Google HEART framework was created for defining large-scale user-centered metrics, both attitudinal and behavioral; a shift from transaction metrics (e.g. PULSE) that did not surface the user’s reaction sufficiently well.

The H in the HEART framework refers to user Happiness; e.g. how satisfied are users with the user experience? how happy are users with the visual appeal of user experience? will they recommend this product to their network? etc. In Haystack, the happiness quotient was derived using inbuilt surveys for the marketer that helped us understand the simplicity of user experience.

The E in the HEART refers to user Engagement; e.g. user’s level of involvement in the product. In Haystack, a more engaged user would react to most of the content sent by a marketer than a less engaged user (which is an opportunity for the marketer to create contextual content). Engagement becomes critical for the Retention of users (with so much Internet Attention Deficit, it’s impossible to retain users unless they are sufficiently engaged).

The A in the HEART framework refers to user Adoption; e.g. how much news started using the product in a given period of time? In Haystack, the learning sub-system prompted the marketer to share content with the right set of people (from the marketer’s network) so that new users can be brought into their fold. We kept evolving the product from an experience standpoint and we measured the (positive/negative) impact on Adoption with every iteration. This insight allowed us to let the marketers define their custom styling for engagement based on adoption rates.

The R in the HEART framework refers to Retention, e.g. how many users continued to use the product in a given timeframe. Engagement and Retention are closely related; the probability that the user is going to be retained depends on how well the user was engaged in the system. In Haystack, we did not count Retention simply as user visits for content created by marketers. Retention for us to nudge the user to respond to the content. For the most part, it helped us measure the accuracy of the learning sub-system that enabled the marketers to send the content to the right target audience.

The T in the HEART framework refers to Task Success, which refers to efficiency and effectiveness of the experience that enables the user to complete a task in the product or a feature. In Haystack, we gave marketers two ways to create content. The first method was a single step process to create content and share with the target audience and the second method was a journey methodology (which was a tailor-made series of steps based on the goal set by the marketer). Over time, we were able to analyze the efficiency of experience (the ease of use) and effectiveness (the completion of tasks) and enabled us to stick to one of the methods.

The researches at Google go-on to propose the usage of this framework in conjunction with Goals and associated Signals. In other words, metrics are useless without a Goal (for the product or a feature) and Signals that help you understand the actions (that needs to be performed) to analyze whether the goal was met or not. Metrics (HEART) are measurable tracking agents that can be defined basis those Goals and associated Signals.

In summary, the HEART framework helps us analyze the effectiveness of a product feature (or a product itself) in quantitative terms. We shall do a deep dive into a similar framework in the next essay.

Originally published at https://www.raghsforte.com on January 29, 2020.

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Raghu Sarangarajan

raghsforte.com | Growth hacking | Product management | Customer success | Entrepreneur | B2B start-ups | ex-SAP