Measuring the depth of digital engagement with your website

Is your website contributing to a deeper and longer lasting relationship with your audience?

Culture doesn’t exist merely to deliver functional, transactional relationships; we engage with it to give us transformative, emotional experiences. And increasingly, we recognise that our websites are also platforms for emotional experiences. Enriching relationships don’t start and end with the show.

Yet in website evaluation, as a sector we’re often stuck in a mindset of only measuring user experience (UX). Here at MHM we believe we need to measure more than just the user experience; we must also evaluate user engagement and affinity. We’ve purposefully been addressing this in our digital evaluation techniques.

The importance of digging deeper to cement relationships

Recently, a forward-thinking client asked us to evaluate their website. Their aim is to deliver 'dynamic storytelling, deep content, and exceptional personal service' with an ambition to 'inspire and facilitate the onsite visit, while cultivating a deep and lasting relationship with audiences (both online and onsite)’. We absolutely loved this. You might read this and feel your website holds similar ambition?

We spent some time reflecting on the gap between what success would look like to them (which is what we wanted to measure for them) and what usually comes with user experience testing. Yes, there was a clear need to help the client improve its user journeys and to remove any friction in its sales funnels. But what about the deep and lasting relationship bit?

It’s clear this is an organisation seeking to deliver more than just an efficient user experience (UX); it is seeking genuine engagement (UE) and deep user affinity (UF).

In response, we created this Depth of Digital Engagement model as a framework for our research projects:

This might seem pretty obvious. But it’s surprising how often web evaluation is conducted purely with a user experience focus. We built our approach to digital evaluation around the principle of measuring what is affecting and effective as well as efficient. We started using this for a website evaluation but quickly found it useful for evaluation of all other forms of digital interventions: apps, digital interpretation and AR/VR.

We invite you to use this simple model yourself, whenever you need an aide memoire in digital product development projects. It’s easy to get lost in the detail of user efficiency without pausing to reflect on the ultimate aim this all serves – to give people memorable encounters with culture.

Where to start?

As a starting point, you might work through this checklist and ask yourself these questions when planning any digital product development:

User Affinity (UF):     

  • How can users demonstrate their love for us?
  • What brand story will they tell others for us?
  • How will this change opinions of us?
  • Is our cause emanating from this? 

User Engagement (UE): 

  • What is the outcome of engaging with this, not just the output?
  • What are we hoping people will feel rather than do?
  • What memories are we trying to create?
  • What added value could positive experience here unlock?
  • How will this make people happier?
  • How do we surprise and delight? 

User Experience (UX)

  • What task are visitors performing?
  • What goal will that task help them achieve?
  • What’s the shortest route from A to B?
  • What are the barriers in our funnel?
  • What is the upsell? 

User Acceptance (UA)

  • Are we mobile optimised?
  • Is the design accessible?
  • Is the translation accurate?

When you design objectives using this framework, you can then design metrics to measure success against.

Please feel free to get in touch for a free Zoom consultation to explore more about your website’s depth of digital engagement. Contact us at hello@mhminsight.com 


As Director, Guy is responsible for delivering pioneering audience engagement projects with many of...