Getting Your UX ROI Right

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about UX ROI and how to not only measure it, but questions about the standard ratios of various aspects in relation to ROI numbers. I find myself in a bit of a pickle with this question, because ROI with UX isn’t quite the same as ROI with a lot of other things. When you think about what UX is and how much sociology and psychology goes into it, it’s understandable that this would be a softer science; however, that’s not to say that UX ROI has absolutely no general practices or general guidelines for what’s what – because, it does. With that in mind, allow me to pontificate on some of these generalities about getting ROI right for what’s put into UX.

Right out of the gate, I demonstrate how soft a science this is by pointing out that UX is a severely important field that increasingly requires focus. How a user interacts with something and the effects and personal experiences have as a result of this are severely make-or-break things. Now, UX isn’t UI, but the whole of UI is encompassed in UX. That’s not to say that the focus has to entirely be a very flashy and over the top UI. In fact, here’s where you might be making a mistake with your ROI. An interface should above all else make sense and be orderly and clean – buttons all sized and spaced right, things aligned and just generally professional. Any effort put into this is positive ROI no matter what.

From here, making it look pleasing is important if it’s a consumer software. If it’s for facilities or science, for example, beauty beyond order is frivolous unless the customer specifically asks for polish like that. So, from here, it’s poor ROI if you’re overly beautifying non-consumer products. However, if you’re just adding some pleasing faces and colors to native controls for consumer services, then it’s a positive ROI.

Beyond this, overly flashy UI is poor ROI unless its purpose is to be pretty and flashy. There are cases of this, but they are rare, the biggest being prop software for movies and shows, actually. Chances are, you’re not working on this, because the UX for that’s a whole different ballgame. Flashiness is guaranteed negative ROI for you.
Now, there are other factors. Your expenses in research and user testing will also be required itemization for ROI. This is where real numbers come into play in that any expenses gone into demographic cases that are not target are probably wasted beyond one or two tests of potentially linked demographics. Beyond misplaced demographics, though, thorough testing is not a 1:1 ratio to expenses incurred or profits made. You know this, just expect a mild challenge explaining that to the bean counters, naturally.

So, getting UX ROI right is all about knowing where the excesses of designer OCD are taking over and booting practicality out. Never skimp on testing or solidarity.