The ROI of UX

UX is extremely valuable. We know this. But how to do demonstrate its value to our superiors, investors or our parents who still have no idea what we do? That’s less obvious. Even the most experienced UX managers find it challenging to determine exactly how to define and measure ROI. Working to find figures and absolutes in this business is difficult, but it is imperative especially considering that a recent survey determined that of 735 internet companies, 11.5% of their budgets (on average) were spent in UX. Gartner reports that usability improvements are often put on the back burner because a clear ROI investment is considered, incorrectly, as impossible to discern. To continue accruing adequate funding and to prove that they are worth the heavy investment, a number of UX professionals have been working diligently trying to piece together exactly how ROI may be determined using a few critical pieces of information. 1. Understand Both Hard and Soft Areas of Measurement You may appropriately and accurately predict certain measurements- retention, traffic, site referrals, employee productivity, cost savings, cost containment and acquisition for example. But how do you measure the “softer” areas of the business? Any UX professional knows the importance of loyalty to their business. But how do these translate into measurable metrics? Are you even keeping note of things like your user satisfaction? User engagement or user service adoption? If you’re not and your product/site is mature, now is the time to start. Ask your users why they’re staying with you (or why they’ve left). The softer areas of this business have very tangible benefits, but you won’t know them unless you look for them and measure them. Do so and do so often. 2. Decide on Your Key Indicators What is it that you’re looking to achieve as UX management? Of course you’re looking for money earned, money saved, but what are the critical UX measurables that you are looking for? Are you looking to increase user satisfaction or facilitate new visitors to your site? Decide what matters most to you and build your metrics around this. Gartner recommends: Determine your company’s top priorities to improve upon related to product strategy and execution. The key to improving product life cycle performance is to focus on one or two primary improvement goals at a time. You may also want to look at the types of data competitors are gathering, so that you have something to measure yourself against. However you begin, it is imperative that you decide what it is you want to measure and begin building your metrics from the ground up. Be specific. 3. Know Your Pain Points This may be the most simple advice of all but it is critical. If you are not recording and measuring your users pain points then you may not be able to respond in a way that significantly improves your ROI. Remember, consulting your users is critical to your success. Watching how your users respond to various changes or challenges is a low cost activity for your business but being responsive to the changes they require is less so. So be ready to prove your investment in time and effort when asked how relieving customer pain meant higher sales or more traffic. Even the small parts of UX improvement must be measured and pain points are one way to get measurables quickly. It is estimated that for every dollar spent on UX you will earn between 2 and 100 dollars on return. Why such a huge gap in numbers? Because until recently we haven’t been keeping those numbers at all. The time is right to start recording your hard and soft wins, and to better understand and evaluate the user experience. If you can then decide on your key indicators and can prove that you’re continually relieving your customer’s pain points, you’ll be on your way to far stronger proof that the ROI of UX is significant and worth continued investment. bnr14
Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)