Is the effort of designing for user experience worth it?

We’ve written a lot recently about the importance of user experience and the role of a user experience designer, but is it worth your company’s time and effort to design for the user? The answer is yes, but let us help you support that by understanding the return on investment (ROI).

Our interaction design/user experience specialist and instructor Susan Culkin shared a great analogy with us.

What would you think if I told you that we were going to start building your house and we’ll bring in an electrician first, and then we’ll bring in a plumber, and then a carpenter? I’ll tell them you want a 3 bedroom house and to start building. Six weeks later you stop by the construction site and see that they have built something that doesn’t match what you need at all. You’re either stuck with it or you can pay double to rebuild it the way you want it. Sounds crazy, right? Well that’s building software without UX is like.

It’s no secret that developing a software product is an expensive undertaking. A great video that breaks down the ROI of User Experience is from Dr. Susan Weinschenk. Citing the IEEE, Dr. Weinschenk shares that up to 15% of projects are abandoned because they are inadequate. She further states, “of the top 12 reasons that projects fail, three of the top 12 are directly related to what we would call user experience or user-centered design work, and those three are badly defined requirements; poor communication among customers, developers, and users; and stakeholder politics.”

The work done in user experience design directly addresses these three issues. User experience designers conduct stakeholder interviews and user research to create a user-centered design. They then run that design through user testing and iterate. Before any code is written, requirements are defined (and not just the perceived requirements), users/customers have voiced their thoughts, and stakeholders have weighed in.

Dr. Weinschenk explains that “calculating the return on investment is a way to show the value of doing user experience work.” In the video she walks through how to calculate your ROI of user experience by using several benchmarks, including financial gains, increased conversion rates, fewer users abandoning the page, decreased number of calls to your help desk, decreased user training, increase in the usage of a software application, saving the user time, saving development time, or reducing errors. By choosing any number of these benchmarks you can look at what your numbers are currently, estimate what they would be if you designed for the user, and then calculate your savings or growth.


While the report from the IEEE referenced in the video is several years old, it is still relevant today. Susan Culkin explains, “Technology salaries and other costs may change over time, but the basic formula is the same. Invest in understanding the experience from the beginning and it will pay off in creating a clear and effective plan for the team to follow that reduces time to market and results in reliable products. A well-designed product ultimately builds loyal customers, keeps support costs low, and increases sales.”

So you’ve crunched the numbers and know that your company needs a user experience designer, but maybe you’re not in a position to add to your head count. Have you considered training a member of your team? Our next professional development session of our UI & UX for Digital Product Design begins February 13th. This 14 week course is one evening a week and requires no prior technical experience, however we do assume some design knowledge and experience. This affordable program is a great way to grow the skillset of one of your designers or other team members, which will enable your company to provide a better user experience. Check out what a few of our students have to say about the class and invite your team member to apply today.

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