User Experience Return On Investment (ROI)

Every Dollar Invested In Ease Of Use Returns $10 To $100

For most of my career, I have been standing on my soapbox preaching the importance of User Experience to anyone that would listen. Usually it’s during an initial sales presentation where I’m trying to convince a client why they should spend more time and focus on the upfront design work of their software because it will save them a ton of time and money on the development work. It doesn’t always sink in. So when I read articles from some of the big players, such as IBM, I jump on the opportunity to say “Don’t take my word for it – read this!”.

In the book Cost-Justifying Usability, Clare-Marie Karat, Ph.D. from the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center references a study where:

$20,700 spent on usability resulted in a $47,700 return on the first day the improvements we implemented and $68,000 spent on usability on another system resulted in $6,800,000 return in the first year.

It then goes on to say that reports have shown that it is far more economical to consider user needs in the early stages of design than it is to solve them later. For example, in Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach, author Robert Pressman shows that for every dollar spent to resolve a problem during product design, $10 would be spent on the same problem during development and $100 or more if the problem had to be solved after the product’s release. Simply stated, the lesson is clear: It is far less expensive to prevent a problem occurring in the first place than to fix it later.

At Fusionapps, we sometimes compete with IBM on software development project and when IBM wins, we can almost hear the client justify their decision by repeating the traditional axiom: “nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM“. So, when I’m desperate to cite some research that will help me make my case for why a client should focus more on UX, I say “nobody ever got fired for quoting IBM“.