Seeing Green: ROI and UX Design

"If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design." - Ralph Speith, CEO Jaguar

Have you heard the news? Companies that hire competent user-experience designers are seeing green. By green, I mean cash. Like, dollar bills, y’all (in the words of the O’Jays).

First, for my non-techies out there, let me remind you what User Experience (commonly referred to as UX) is. UX is the science and design of crafting a product or app so that it is easy to use and understand, meets expectations, and achieves business goals.

Strategizing and designing a user experience requires a significant amount of work, and people often question whether hiring a UX designer is really worth it, financially.

 

MY QUESTION: CAN YOU AFFORD NOT TO HIRE A UX DESIGNER?

Successful companies are built with the bottom line in mind, and understandably so. There has to be a meaningful return on investment (ROI) for each hire a business makes, including the role of a UX designer. It might feel less financially painful on the front end to skip the UX-design process, but when the product/site/app is complete and the dust settles, you might look at things a bit differently.

LET’S LOOK AT SOME RECENT STATS ON SOFTWARE FAILURE:
  • over $1 trillion/year are spent in IT worldwide
  • up to 15% of projects end up abandoned because of inadequate functionality
  • on average, between 5% and 10% of a company’s total revenue goes to its IT group
  • IT professionals spend almost 50% of their time on reworks that are completely avoidable
  • The cost of fixing errors after development is complete is 100x that of fixing the errors before the software/product/app is launched

On top of that, three of the top twelve reasons that projects fail are directly related to UX:

  • badly defined system requirements
  • poor communication among customers/developers/users
  • stakeholder politics

This is where UX professionals come into play. The work they do (stakeholder interviews, UX research and testing, UX-centered design) helps companies avoid pitfalls like those listed above, and saves them potentially enormous amounts of money in the process.

 

LET’S LOOK AT AN EXAMPLE

Let’s say your company fields 100 support requests per day. Perhaps many of them are repeated or similar issues (e.g. how to perform a task). Let’s say you have 3 full-time employees responding to these requests at an average salary of $35,000/yr. That’s an annual cost of $105,000 to serve 36,500 requests, or $2.88 per request.

Now let’s say you spend $10,000 on a UX project to make the task easier to perform, which results in a 15% reduction in support requests. You’ve just saved $15,750 with $5,750 of it going straight back to the bottom line.

 

Decreasing Support Costs
Annual Support Request Volume 36,500
Support Staff Salary $105,000
Cost per Request $2.88
UX project makes thing easier to use
Request Volume Reduction 15.00%
New Request Volume 31,025
Savings $15,750
Project Cost $10,000
Annual Profit $5,750

 

And remember, that’s an annual savings for a one-time expenditure on the UX project. It’s easy to see how this can add up over time.

 

THE IMPLICATIONS HERE ARE HUGE.

The amount of money and time that are saved by the work of UX experts are huge, and would be even greater if they had been utilized on the front end, pre-release. Don’t be shortsighted. Remember the big picture when it comes to your business and your wallet, and consider the ROI that comes from having a reliable UX professional at your side. It will pay off for you time and again.

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