Connecting the Dots: Design Briefs and the Core Metric for Product Success



Aug 11, 20234 min read


Connecting the Dots: Design Briefs and the Core Metric for Product Success


In the world of design and product development, two crucial elements stand out - the design brief and the core metric for measuring product success. While seemingly unrelated, these two concepts share common ground in their focus on understanding user behavior and achieving desired outcomes. In this article, we explore the significance of both design briefs and the core metric, and how they can work together to drive effective design and product strategies.

Design Brief: Defining the Path to Success

A design brief serves as a roadmap for designers, outlining the essential details of a project, its objectives, and the strategies to achieve them. It acts as a guiding document that aligns stakeholders and provides clarity to designers on what needs to be accomplished. A well-crafted design brief allows for effective communication, reduces ambiguity, and ensures that the desired outcomes are met.

When creating a design brief, it is essential to include key elements such as the project overview, goals, scope, and strategy. The project overview provides a concise summary of the design initiative, setting the context for the entire project. Clearly defining the goals and objectives helps establish the direction and purpose of the design work. Additionally, outlining the scope of the project ensures that all stakeholders have a shared understanding of what will be delivered. Finally, including a well-thought-out strategy helps designers make informed decisions and prioritize their efforts effectively.

The Core Metric: A Measure of User Engagement

While design briefs focus on the project's objectives, the core metric centers around user engagement and product success. As highlighted by Josh Elman, the core metric revolves around three fundamental questions: Are people using your product? Are they using it as intended? And, are they using it frequently enough?

To evaluate user engagement, Elman suggests categorizing users into three buckets: cold, casual, and core. Cold users represent those who do not return to the product after initial usage. Casual users are individuals who may sporadically engage with the product. However, the most valuable group is the core users, who consistently and frequently use the product. These core users are the ones who drive retention, provide valuable feedback, and are more likely to become advocates for the product.

Connecting the Dots: Design Briefs and the Core Metric

When we examine the relationship between design briefs and the core metric, we find a natural link. A well-crafted design brief should incorporate elements that address the core metric's concerns. By defining the goals and objectives in the design brief, we can align them with the desired user actions outlined in the core metric. This alignment ensures that the design work focuses on driving user engagement and achieving the intended outcomes.

Additionally, the project overview in the design brief can provide insights into the target user base, enabling designers to identify the core users and tailor the product experience to meet their needs. By understanding the core users' preferences, designers can create solutions that resonate with this valuable group, fostering higher engagement and retention rates.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Define Clear Goals: When creating a design brief, ensure that the goals are well-defined and measurable. Align these goals with the desired user actions outlined in the core metric. This alignment will guide the design process towards achieving the desired outcomes.
  • 2. Understand Your Core Users: Conduct thorough user research to identify and understand your core users. By gaining insights into their preferences, pain points, and motivations, you can design a product experience that caters to their needs. This approach will lead to higher user engagement and retention rates.
  • 3. Continuously Monitor and Iterate: Regularly track and analyze the core metric to gauge the effectiveness of your design efforts. Use the data to identify areas of improvement and iterate on the product to enhance user engagement and satisfaction.


In conclusion, design briefs and the core metric for product success share a common purpose - understanding user behavior and achieving desired outcomes. By incorporating the core metric's principles into the design brief, designers can align their efforts to drive user engagement and create impactful solutions. By defining clear goals, understanding core users, and continuously monitoring and iterating, designers can enhance the likelihood of product success. Ultimately, the synergy between design briefs and the core metric opens doors to effective design strategies and product experiences that resonate with users.


  1. "How to Write a Design Brief (with Examples)", (Glasp)
  2. "The Only Metric That Matters — Now With Fancy Slides! | by Josh Elman | Greylock Perspectives", (Glasp)

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