The more I see design playing into conversations about ‘proving ourselves’, the more it feels like perpetuating siloed practices in service of our own job security.

Yes it’s important to justify investment in design. But we’re going about things in incomplete, micro ways. Nothing we ever do will purely stand on its own. Everything involves multiple disciplines and it’s rare that a single number will fully capture the truth. We should integrate disciplines more and push the business to as well.

We have nothing to prove as designers, but we can be the single best discipline to simplify, unify & amplify disparate efforts. Lead with a unified story and design efforts might just fall into place.

As a path forward, here’s one way I saw my team work well at Code and Theory*, by defining a measurement strategy. Design contributes to the KPIs and signals that laddered up to the larger story for the business, but something like usability or satisfaction wasn’t an end goal in itself! By tethering design to behavior change affected we demonstrate our ability to be agents of positive change and forward momentum for customers and businesses.

Measurement Approach:

  1. Align on a Business Goal
  2. Align on Objectives (how to reach the business goal)
  3. Define KPIs (metrics that demonstrate how effectively you are achieving your stated objectives)
  4. Identify Signals (Signals are the measurable behaviors influencing your KPIs that are relevant to each solution. They can ladder up to multiple KPIs, and each KPI can have dozens of signals)
  5. (Then organize your data sources and start tracking!)

Here’s an example for a Clinical Trials program:

1) GOAL: More patients, completing more clinical trials, faster.

2) OBJECTIVES: Drive Brand Trust + Cultivate Quality Partners + Improve Efficiencies

Drive Brand Trust


  • Retention Rate (% repeat sites)
  • % Patient Enrollment to Goal
  • Brand Sentiment Score/NPS


  • Patients per Site
  • Internal to External Enrollment Ratio
  • Patient Referrals
  • Repeat Patients
  • X app Enrollment Rate
  • X app Return Visit Rate
  • X Report Download Rate

Improve Efficiencies (through streamlining at each stage)


  • Avg Time 1st patient to Closeout
  • Recruitment Rate (patients per site per month)
  • Avg Time First Site/First Visit to Last Site/Last Visit


  • Avg Time to Site Selection
  • Avg Time to Training Completion
  • Avg Time to Enrollment Goal
  • Data Accuracy Rate
  • Data Query Resolution Time
  • Adverse Events Reporting Time

Establish baselines. Report on them. Rinse wash repeat. Demonstrate traction now that we’re consistently reporting on metrics that matter—ones that specifically tell a company story.

Pro Tip: anchor with a journey / service blue print. Call out where/how customers are facilitated through the system. Humanize it. Make people care, actually feel something, remember why they do this work in the first place!

*The approach above was the work of the insanely smart Anna Silva. I hope she’ll forgive me for sharing a peek into the creation of a unified narrative for a new experience driven digital ecosystem we were designing.