Proving the Value of UX Design

Using a website or application that has been optimally designed based on user experience (UX) is like a breath of fresh air for users typically encumbered by poorly designed platforms during their online hunts for information. Yet, until they experience the ease of use brought about by UX design, Web surfers may be oblivious to what they’re missing.

This may as well be the case with the decision makers at your company. This is why you, whether you’re the chief technology officer or the head of marketing or sales, must prove the value of investing in UX design to your employer as a prerequisite to building or redesigning a website or application. Business decision makers—saddled with the task of increasing profits on tight budgets in a competitive global economy—need to be convinced that investing in UX design will provide a worthwhile return.

Here are some of the steps you can take to ensure that the decision makers in your organization understand the value of UX to your company’s bottom line:

Get the facts from designers, developers, and IT specialists

The value of good UX design can’t be ascribed solely to end users; your proposal to invest in UX design must also take into account the design, development, and IT teams. Make sure your boss understands their perspectives. For example, designers and developers may resent being called upon frequently to construct new iterations of a site with a lacking UX design to address user concerns with navigation and/or the purchasing process. Your IT staff, too, likely worry about how poor design will take them from other critical tasks to handle site or app glitches.

Instead, make sure that the higher ups understand that a clearly crafted and easily navigable page or application will result in fewer user errors that take up staff time, and can potentially decrease conversions. Provide examples from other non-UX Web or app design projects that decreased worker productivity.

Start with a low-risk test case

Helping your boss to see the value of UX design or redesign can be difficult if he or she can’t see the big picture. That’s why it may help your case to start with a smaller-scale, low-risk project, such as adding a single UX feature to your website. Or, invite one small division of your company to study the impact of a back-end application. Rather than building or redesigning a site or app from the ground up, demonstrate potential benefits on a smaller scale first.

Perform metric analysis

If you already have a site or application in place, you have the benefit of leveraging existing metrics to make your case. For consumer-facing sites or applications, track bounce rates to see how quickly users leave your page, which will indicate at what point user interest is lost. If they’re making their way through the sales funnel but abandon purchases in their cart, you may have an overly complex purchasing process.

With back-end projects for internal use among employees, the value of metric analysis lies in tracking performance. Use your existing protocols to determine which tasks take employees the longest to complete, and where they are making the most operational errors. The value of investing in UX design lies in the objective of streamlining communications, improving the efficiency of workers, and minimizing mistakes—if you can do this, you’ll likely boost morale as well, leading to a more enthusiastic and engaged workforce.

For evidence on how drastically your organization’s fortunes can change by addressing the vulnerabilities exposed by metric analysis, consider a joint Design Management Institute and Microsoft funded study which found that, over a 10-year period, companies investing in UX design outperformed their counterparts on the S&P by 219 percent.

Even if your organization is building a website or application for the first time without the benefit of tracked metrics, this study and countless others like it should prove that many organizations—including your competitors—are already reaping the rewards of investment in UX design.

Put your employer in the tester’s seat

User testing is a critical component of UX design. Actual users testing a site or application provide researchers valuable insight into how they actually experience and interact with the design. If you want to make the case to your boss that you need to invest in UX, why not put him or her in the hot seat? If you already have a website or app, have your boss go through the process of trying to make a purchase or complete an administrative function. This may compel him or her to see through the eyes of other employees and prospective customers, and to acknowledge that improvements can be made.

Although singlehandedly proving the value of investing in solid UX design may seem like a large hurdle, the benefits are clear to anyone willing to listen. The fact of the matter is, any company that allocates resources to improving UX will always outperform an equivalent company that does not. The value of UX design cannot be overstated, and the failure to recognize it can be even more costly in the long run.