KPIs: Benchmarks for Digital Success

January 15th, 2021

What is a KPI and why do we need them?

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. A KPI is a standard for understanding whether or not your digital strategy is working based on your goals for that project.
KPIs are different from metrics. KPIs indicate your progress towards achieving your broader business goals, whereas metrics are granular measurement data that quantify that progress towards (or away from) those goals. 

KPIs are signposts. Having clearly-articulated goals and KPIs isn’t just about measurement; having clear KPIs is critical to designing a sustainable metrics and analytics strategy. KPIs and their related goals also help guide your team and ours when we make design choices. They serve as guideposts for the team during the design process by helping us ensure that specific information or areas of the site related to those goals are easily accessible.

Overwhelmed by too many opinions? KPIs can help with that too. You never truly realize how many varying opinions there can be till trying to get a group of stakeholders to agree on a design element. Even something as simple as a header image can start an argument!  Using KPIs as guidelines helps remove the subjectivity of the design and layout process. KPIs ultimately account for how users journey through your platform, so focusing more on how the platform funnels those users through various actions and paths (rather than on what some of your team likes better) will help you stay on target.

How to set up your own KPIs

The first step in creating KPIs is to review your goals, then quantify what achieving those goals looks like. 
Let’s use a hypothetical university as an example of how to accomplish this. We’ll call them FFW University. 

Primary goals for FFW University are:

  • Increase student enrollment
  • Educate students about life at the university

Both goals seem straightforward on their own, but how do you measure things like “education” so it’s quantifiable by analytics data? Below are the same goals with KPIs to help us measure success.

Goal 1: Increase student enrollment

  • KPI: Number of students filling out forms via website
    • Example: By January 2023, increase digital student signup form submissions by 10%

Goal 2: Educate students about life at FFW University

  • KPI: Number of digital tour requests
    • Example: Increase number of digital tour requests by 5% in 2021
  • KPI: Number of form submissions for dorm information
    • Example: By January 2022, increase requests for dorm information by 20%
  • KPI: Number of form submissions for sorority or fraternity information
    • Increase form submissions for sorority or fraternity information by 5%

You can see in the examples shown how a KPI breaks down a broader goal into something that is quantifiable. Those KPIs can now be used to inform design decisions for the site, providing more concrete rationale for decision making. 

About to embark on your own website redesign?

Given the high stakes of a redesign project, it’s vital to embark on the journey with a partner you can trust in. FFW has supported some of the world’s biggest brands like GE and LUSH through their digital projects, and would love to put that experience to work for you. 


Leigh Anderson

Leigh Anderson

DocServices Manager