Modestas Mitkus
Mar 30, 2021

The Pirates of UX – ‘AARRR’

Many years ago, pirates sailed their ships through the most challenging waves, but later they moved to the internet to continue stealing things that do not belong to them. Nevertheless, another pirate-related term also exists in the User Experience world, but its meaning is positive. The AARRR framework does not have any ties with pirates except for the name, but what exactly it is, and how can we all become pirates not only for Halloween?


What is AARRR!

Even though it sounds like a typical pirate sound, the AARRR framework is a UX method used to understand why some product-related decisions work, and some don’t. Also called the Pirate Metrics, this framework helps businesses, especially young startups, correctly read the metric information they have or receive and use the knowledge to measure the company’s growth. Once they know which metrics are too low or do not reach the desired limits, business owners can make specific changes, optimizations, and improvements.



Designed to portray and read metrics straightforwardly and understandably, the AARRR framework has become one of the most popular methods to use in less than fifteen years. As its name is an acronym for the customer journey stages, which it includes and highlights, you can never go wrong saying AARRR out loud!




Five letters in the framework’s name mean five different stages, each asking another question that gets answered just by looking at the metrics. Like the sales funnel, the AARRR framework is often portrayed as a funnel, whose narrowing means further stages in a customer journey process. It starts with a user hearing about your business for the first time and ends as users are happily purchasing your products. Therefore, you spend money to get clients and later, you are getting paid for that, but, most importantly, you have to distribute your resources in the most efficient way to increase sales and growth.



How AARRR Works?

The AARRR framework is not just a phrase – it is a method allowing young companies to focus on Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue.


Acquisition – means understanding how simple business visitors become customers. Look at how much it costs you to convert one person into a customer on each marketing channel you use; the number should never be higher than the revenue you get from them.

Activation – means making sure the person sees value in your product. Look at how long it takes for users to reach the aha moment, for example, login, upload or save something, which guarantees they will continue to use the product.

Retention – means counting how many customers are now your regulars. Look at how much people keep using your product month after month or renew their subscription; it is more expensive to convert a new customer than to retain a loyal one.

Referral – means looking at whether the existing users attract new ones and how often it is happening. Spend time designing new ways your loyal customers could refer your business to their friends; an excellent referral strategy lowers acquisition cost.

Revenue – means increasing customer lifetime value and decreasing customer acquisition cost. Look for ways to optimize the sales funnel and attract as many users as possible because their purchases move your business forward, so you want them to use the product for as long as possible.


Often called the five steps to success, the AARRR framework provides businesses with a tool to measure their growth as effectively as possible. It is a method to optimize how you attract and retain customers, set realistic goals and cleverly beat them. Even though pirates have nothing in common with UX, all of them use the AARRR – join them!

Sign up for more UX content

We have more amazing UI/UX content
coming every week for you