The Lever Framework

Without a watertight system for categorizing the different features of user experience, it can be difficult to isolate learnings from one a/b test and apply them to future tests – let alone future programs.

Evolved and fine-tuned over more than a decade, our Lever Framework is a rigorous, highly-effective system for categorizing the different features of user experience. 

What is our Lever Framework?

In order to understand what our Lever Framework is, you first need to know how we define the term ‘Lever’. 

Put simply, a Lever is any feature of the user experience that influences user behavior. 

Our Lever Framework, then, is a system for defining and categorizing the different features of user experience that influence user behavior.

What is our Lever Framework?

In order to understand what our Lever Framework is, you first need to know how we define the term ‘Lever’. 

Put simply, a Lever is any feature of the user experience that influences user behavior. 

Our Lever Framework, then, is a system for defining and categorizing the different features of user experience that influence user behavior.

This may all sound very abstract, but in practice, our Lever Framework is proving to be an unbelievably powerful tool, letting us:

Iterate more effectively within specific experimentation programs. That means we can isolate learnings from early tests and use them to drive bigger wins for your program further down the line.

Leverage insights more effectively across experimentation programs. That means we can take learnings from past clients’ programs and apply them to your testing strategy to drive even bigger results for your program.

Collect more meaningful data on experiment win rates – data which we’re using to train our machine learning model to predict experiment results with startling accuracy.

Note: this piece of content is aimed at familiarizing you with the framework itself. If you’re interested in learning more about how to actually apply the Lever Framework to your own experimentation program, here’s a link to our Levers Framework White Paper. Alternatively, if you’d like to see examples of the huge value the framework provides in practice, we’d recommend that you read the final section of this blog post.

The Framework structure

The framework we’ve developed is a hierarchical tree-like structure that aims to describe changes to user experience at three levels of generality. 

We start with 5 ‘top-level’ levers known as Master Levers. These are:

  • Cost
  • Trust
  • Usability
  • Comprehension
  • Motivation

Next, each of these Master Levers can be divided into a number of constituent levers, which we simply call Levers. 

And each of these Levers can be broken down further into a number of Sub-Levers. 

All of this may sound a bit abstract, so here’s a diagram to help make it all a bit clearer.

As you can see, each Sub-Lever has a parent Lever, and each Lever has a parent Master Lever.  
So, for example, the Sub-Lever ‘social proof’ belongs to the Lever ‘credibility’ and the Master Lever ‘trust’.

This hierarchical structure means that any data we collect for the Sub-Lever is also relevant to its parent lever and its parent master lever as well. 

Returning to the social proof example, then: if social proof has proven to be an effective Lever on a client’s website, we can use that information to infer that other Sub-Levers falling under the ‘credibility’ parent Lever might also be worth exploring as well. 

What’s more, we can also infer that other Sub-Levers and Levers that fall under the Master Lever ‘trust’ may be worth pursuing too. 

In essence, this allows us to focus our attention on those levers with the best chance of success – ensuring the maximum ROI for your program.

The 5 Master Levers

Having shared an overview of the framework, we’re now going to give a whistle-stop tour of the five main categories – or what we call ‘Master Levers.’


All levers that come under the Master Lever ‘Cost’ are focussed on how users interpret the cost of a product.

But not all costs are financial. 

When we say ‘cost’ here we’re referring to how much the user will expect to commit in exchange for the benefits of the product/service they’re considering purchasing. 

So, in other words, all of the Levers and Sub-Levers tied to ‘cost’ are associated with the perceived downsides of the product. These can be:

How much money will I have to pay for this product/service?
How much time and effort will I have to commit to benefit from this product or service?
How much flexibility is there for avoiding or adjusting the anticipated costs?

This Master Lever’s structure (seen below) has helped us identify and classify all of these different types of perceived downside within a neat and useful hierarchical structure.

The ‘Perceived cost’ master lever


Our next Master Lever is ‘Trust’, which is about the assessment of risk users make when interacting with a website.

Depending on the severity of this ‘trust’ question, this Master Lever might relate to several categories of problem:

  • Is this a legitimate website? (or a scam?)
  • Do I believe the website’s claims about the quality of their product/service? (or are they likely exaggerating?)
  • Is there proper protection of sensitive information? (How comfortable do I feel entering confidential information on this site, even if it is a real company?)

The ‘Trust’ master lever


In our model, the ‘Usability’ Master Lever is all about how easily users can progress through the website, from arrival on the site through to fulfilling their desired goal, i.e. converting. 

This is very closely aligned with the idea of fluency in psychology: is the user experience arranged such that the thought of not completing their desired action never arises?

This Master Lever covers several kinds of questions:

  • Does the user know where they are and where they need to go next?
  • Does the user think taking the desired actions will require a lot of effort? Are they experiencing fatigue?
  • Is the presentation of product options effective in getting users to the right product for them?
  • Is the users’ attention being allocated to the most useful things?
  • Is the users’ on-site progress being properly acknowledged as they complete the actions we want them to complete? 

The ‘Usability’ master lever


The ‘Comprehension’ Master Lever is all about how well information is delivered and presented on a website. 

It’s about helping users feel comfortable enough in their understanding of the product and transaction that they’re willing to make a purchase.

It therefore considers:

  • Do users understand enough about this industry and general type of product to feel comfortable purchasing this service/product at all?
  • Do users understand everything they need to know about their product of interest on the site to purchase it here?
  • Do users understand everything they need to about the transaction they’re agreeing to in order to convert?

The ‘Comprehension’ master lever


Motivation is possibly the most varied category of change in this list. 

It’s concerned with what the ‘up-side’ of the product offering actually is: why go through the effort of working through this site? Why pay money, allocate time, and why bother using the product/service at all? 

Fundamentally, it’s asking ‘What’s in it for the user and/or the person they are purchasing it for?’

This can be broken down into several typical questions:

  • Do the descriptions of the product/service make the user feel inspired and excited to have it?
  • Does imagery of the product evoke the right emotions and anticipation to make users excited to have it? 
  • Does the user feel a sense of obligation to convert?
  • Does this product/service give the user access to an imagined (or actual) community?
  • Does it feel particularly important to convert during any given session?
  • Is there an opportunity to experience the qualities of the product before purchasing? And is this opportunity optimal to boost purchase-intent?
  • Does it feel like there’s a wide enough variety of options to choose from, or to which you will gain access? 
  • Is the way that the user will receive access to the product/service compelling?
    Is the product/service fun or addictive to continue using, and to make further payments in future?

The ‘Motivation’ master lever