5 mins | 13 Jul, 2022

What is the value of User Experience (UX) Design?

One of the common problems design teams who favour proper, well-considered UX Design as part of their process come up against, is how to demonstrate the value it brings to non-believers. Even in 2022, when User Experience has become a key term in product development, we still come across project stakeholders who take some convincing. Those that think it's all just fluff and not really needed. Those that want to skip over the research and jump straight into prototyping.

This article is aimed at helping those people to understand that there is real value in considering the users who are going to be interacting with your product, before opening up the design software. Taking time to understand their needs and frustrations will have an impact on the end result. This stuff is really important if you want your project to do better than your competitors.

So what is the return on investment for UX Design? Well, you might be surprised just how much it can give you.

On average, every $1 invested in UX, brings up to $100 in return.

Source - A report from Forrester “The ROI of design thinking”

That’s right, a report from research and consulting firm, Forrester shows that for every $1 you invest in user experience design, you can expect up to 100x your return on investment. That's a big bold statement (which you can confirm for yourself) but let's dive into some more numbers that back that up, as there are countless case studies that clearly show how spending on user experience design can greatly improve your chance of success. And also, plenty of counter-examples to show where neglecting UX thinking will likely give you a problem to deal with.

What happens when you don’t value UX

One of the more famous examples of an online UX failure was the launch of Marks and Spencer's new website in 2014, which led to an 8.1% loss in sales. Some of the reported problems users faced when dealing with the new site were:

  • A confusing search and filtering system
  • A lack of product information available
  • And unbelievably - Items disappearing from their shopping basket!
Marks and Spencer
Marks and Spencer store

This was big news at the time and it led to a shareholder revolt, which could have been avoided with some user testing prior to going live. It seems crazy now to think that such a large retailer didn’t do some simple user testing before releasing their overhauled website to their customers, but I guess it was nearly a decade ago now and the UX field has come a long way since then.

Learn more about that here.

The Marks and Spencer story is not unique though. Businesses big and small face battling negative user experiences in order to keep loyal customers on a daily basis. In the online space though, loyalty is thin-wearing and bad UX costs companies billions every year:

  • $62 billion is lost every year due to poor customer service
  • 70% of customers will abandon a purchasing journey if they are having a bad experience
  • 62% of customers who do experience poor UX, will tell their friends and colleagues about it.

The Return On Investment (ROI) of UX Design

So clearly neglecting UX can have a negative effect on your bottom line. How might we turn that around though, what's the actual ROI value of UX Design?

Well, like anything design related, it's subjective. However, there are many examples and studies that show the clear positive impact design can have on a business. Here are what I consider to be the top 5 most important reasons to ‘do UX’.

Good UX gets more visitors

Putting a good user experience in place will generate more visitors to your site (Google now values user experience as one of the key differentiators when deciding where to rank your website). It will also foster more return visits and word-of-mouth referrals.

  • When Staples re-designed their eCommerce site, it generated an 80% increase in visitors and decreased drop-off by 45%. It also increased repeat customers by 67%.

Good UX sells more

A positive user experience reduces friction between the customer and their end goal, which generally means more successful checkouts or signups.

  • Anthropologie increased their sales by 24% with a redesign that focused on making its checkout process easier for customers.

Good UX gets valued higher

We judge attractive things more highly than ugly things (we humans are vain like that). When considering the credibility of a website, 75% of our decision will be based on aesthetics alone. The overall experience we have will then impact the value we perceive and how much we are willing to pay for what we are looking for.

  • 8 in 10 customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.

Good UX creates efficiencies

A well-designed product creates efficiencies in two ways. First, it improves the ability of the end-user to quickly complete their desired task. Secondly, it reduces development time and focuses product teams on the key features that matter most.

  • UX Design reduces overall development time by 33-50%, through task prioritisation and reduction of re-work time.

Good UX gets talked about

Those who have a good user experience online, tend to tell others about it. One of the biggest positive side effects of great design is the snowball effect it can have on word-of-mouth marketing.

  • 23% of customers who have a positive experience tell 10 or more people about it.

Positive user experience success stories

There are some great examples of big names who value design thinking. Here are 3 who attribute focusing on customer needs above other factors to their success.

  • During Amazon's first year of business, Jeff Bezos invested 100x more into customer experience than he did into adverting
  • Mike Gebbia at Airbnb credits UX as one of the key elements that helped them grow to a $10 billion company
  • Following some usability testing at MacAfee Software to learn about their customer's needs, the company was able to save 90% in expenses by reducing complaints
Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos

What does good UX Design look like?

So hopefully by now, you can see there is real value in design thinking. It has a positive effect on customers which ultimately effects a business's bottom line. How do you achieve a good user experience though?

Many clients think that designing a website or mobile app, is simply about opening up some design software and starting to lay a page out. It's not. There are many tasks to work through before the design team should even begin to consider what the end result should look like.

Here are a few that are part of our design process here at Userism:

Define the problem, Understand the business goals, Define the user goals & frustrations, Content auditing, Analytics review, Competitor analysis, Desk research, Customer journey mapping, Workshop planning, User interviews, Stakeholder/Client interviews, Card sorting, Task analysis, Storyboarding and scenario mapping, Empathy mapping, Persona development, User journey design, User flow analysis, Site mapping, Content architecture, Wireframing, Content design.

(this is not an exhaustive list).

The important steps in UX Design

There is a process to UX Design, which every designer has their own take on. It can be thorough and in-depth, or sometimes lighter (just touching on the key concerns). Depending on the project, you might decide to focus on certain areas of experience design. To properly ‘do UX’ though, there are always 3 key phases to consider:

  • Understand who you are designing for
  • Learn about their needs, goals, and frustrations
  • Optimise their user journeys

We first need to know who we are designing for. Who is actually going to be using this website or app? What are their demographics? Are they male or female? Young or old? Where are they from? What are their interests, beliefs and values?

Next, we look to understand more deeply their goals and pain points. What are they looking to achieve while here and what might stop them from doing that?

Finally, we use that information to create user journies for people to follow that speak to their needs, providing them with the right information at the right time to complete their goals whilst alleviating any concerns they might have.

The real value of UX Design

The data shows that time and time again, those who work hard to understand their user's needs and provide solutions to meet them do better than their competitors. This manifests in various ways from attracting more customers and generating more sales to creating efficiencies along with loyal fans who will help spread the word of your business.

By focusing on your users and designing to meet their needs, you will provide a solution that allows them to get the thing done they came to you for and they will thank you for that! And that's how you can get a 100x return on your UX Design investment.

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