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Return on Investment for Usable User Interface Design: Examples and Statistics

Making computer-based products (and services) more usable is smart business. Usability increases customer satisfaction and productivity, leads to customer trust and loyalty, and inevitably results in tangible cost savings and profitability. Because user-interface (UI) development is part of a product’s development cost anyway, it pays to do it right. Most software and Website development managers view usability costs as added effort and expense, but the reverse is more commonly true. Because the first 10% of the design process, when key system-design decisions are made, can determine 90% of a product’s cost and performance, usability techniques help keep the product aligned with company goals (Smith & Reinersten). Usability returns many benefits (return on investment, or ROI) to products developed for either internal use or sale (Bias & Mayhew, 1994):

Internal ROI
• Increased user productivity
• Decreased user errors
• Decreased training costs
• Savings gained from making changes earlier in design life cycle
• Decreased user support

External ROI

• Increased sales
• Decreased customer support costs
• Savings gained from making changes earlier in the design life cycle
• Reduced cost of providing training (if training is offered through the vendor company (Bias & Mayhew, 1994)

Usability also plays a role in the public’s perception of a company, affecting brand value and market share. About 15% (Nielsen, 1993) of the space in reviews published in trade magazines, journals, and national newspapers is devoted to user friendliness or usability. Media giants such as The New York Times, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal publish weekly columns that evaluate software (Bias & Mayhew, 1994). Info World devotes between 18% and 30% of its software review articles to ease of learning, ease of use, and quality of documentation (Nielsen, 1993).

Continue reading this article at: Return on Investment  for Usable User Interface Design