User experience: ROI and methods to measure your investment in UX
You have probably heard the expression “put the user at the center of your business strategy,” but why is this relevant?
Companies like Amazon have built real empires from customer needs – paying specific attention to constant satisfaction monitoring.
So did Netflix, which evolved this vision even further and incorporated user experience into the core of its work processes, generating essential connections with customers.
More and more, sectors realize the importance of user experience (UX) for business, more recently, banks.
Why? Because lately, there have been bank fans (can we call them fans?) fighting on social media to defend their bank. All these, thanks to the connection built through good experiences.
Translating: the user recognizes their effort – and returns them in favor. From just this outcome, we can say that it is worth investing in UX.
“The experience will surpass price and product to become the leading brand differentiator by 2020” – WALKER AGENCY.
Even in the face of this reality, it still takes a good deal of convincing to make all the stakeholders of a company understand the impacts of UX projects.
Is UX worth the investment?
The answer is yes. But let’s say you are a little more pragmatic – or you need to justify UX changes to higher-ups in your organization. You will need an ROI estimate.
It turns out that calculating exactly how much a company will profit from investing in UX is not easy. But we have some good news:
- The first is that everything can be measured.
- The second is that someone has already done this job for us.
| The Design Management Institute researched the size of companies’ competitive edge that they called design-centered – but you can see it there as design-driven, user-centric, or “user focus.”
| In the study, companies like Apple and Coca-Cola outperformed the rating agency Standard & Poor’s by 228%, which indicates the industry’s average performance. The figures take into account a period of 10 years (2003-2013).
Not to mention the improvement in productivity and the reduction of rework costs, especially in the development process.
For every $ 1 invested in UX, a company has a return of $ 100. The six steps for justifying better UX, Forrester (2006).
In the book Why Software Fails, there is also information that gives us the cost-effective impact of investing in UX.
According to data from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), more than 1 trillion dollars are invested annually in IT projects.
Also, according to the institute, 15% of the projects are abandoned before completion.
The negligible number of failures represents 37 billion dollars in missed opportunities.
Yes, the lack of UX can be expensive.
It is necessary to narrow the gap between design and development.
Rework is the number one complaint of 10 out of 10 employees, from developers to designers. These professionals spend a great deal of time altering their work and something that could be avoided.
Some reasons behind this are:
- Poorly defined requirements
- Lack of user knowledge
- Lack of prioritization and lack of definition among the stakeholders themselves
It is much cheaper to build the right project from the start than correct it further up the road. Statistics indicate that investing in UX during the conceptual phase of a project can reduce the solution development cycle time by 33% to 50%.
This is crucial. After all, a delay of ¼ to bring a product to the market means sacrificing 50% of the profit. The rise of digital has brought new guidelines for software development. Interdisciplinarity between UX and DevOps is the key to fostering incredibly user-friendly experiences.
In this context, the old linear workflow (first developers, then designers) no longer works. Fluid usability is directly connected to a dynamic workflow, reflecting how different teams can work together.
Ensure your competitive advantage by integrating your development and UX & UI teams as soon as possible. Check out the e-book Software Development: no gap between designers and developers and learn how to bring together development, design, and UX teams.
How do I measure the ROI of my UX strategy?
Well, the most appropriate answer is it depends. After all, it will depend on the OKRs and objectives. The idea is to reconcile the interests of users and the financial return for the company.
It’s not as complicated as it looks! Designing good experiences is beneficial for everyone: for the company, which generates the motivation needed to get greenlit; and for users, who are provided with uncomplicated processes for a series of everyday activities.
In one way or another, results can be measured to justify the financial investment, based on mapping specific metrics.
We can say that a good experience results from careful planning, analysis, testing, and investment. All of this in the process of continuous improvement. That is, good experiences do not happen by accident. No company invests in UX because their competitor has. Companies will only invest in user experience when they are convinced of a specific benefit.
A good UX is one that can improve KPIs and ROI.
It is necessary to reconcile the positive impact of a good usability experience for the user and the commercial impact of these activities for the company. This is also a function of the UX professional.
Indicators that mean a good ROI in UX
UX professionals should try to include the company’s interests as a variable in the research and construction process of a good usability experience. Design Thinking can help a lot in this mission.
Here are some indicators that indicate a good ROI in UX:
- Increased conversion rate
- Increased customer retention rate
- Improved customer satisfaction rates
- Reduced product time-to-market
- Reduced number of complaint tickets
- Reduced time to complete tasks (user)
- Reduction of user errors
- Increased brand loyalty
But generic benefits and average values alone won’t work for your company. You want to know how to start measuring UX in your business, right? So let’s get to practice.
Three practical approaches to measure the ROI of UX
We have already discussed the importance of measuring the return on your UX project, the benefits of adding phases to your UX within developing a product or service, and the growth curve of design-driven companies.
Now, we will show you the three most known and used techniques to measure the return of your UX projects. Check them out!
Google HEART is a Google ROI measurement framework, which proposes a way to create metrics to quantify the return on a given project. The acronym stands for:
- H – happiness
- E – engagement
- A – adoption
- R – retention
- T – task success
This means that, for the Silicon Valley giant, happiness, engagement, adoption, retention, and success rate are the main points to be assessed for usability.
Remember, when we talked about experiences that promote user/brand bonding? Well, HEART is built upon that theory.
HEART was developed in partnership between Digital Telepathy and Google Ventures to support Product Owners (yes, it was made to run on agile!), or even UX professionals, to measure the success of their solutions.
Defining UX metrics can often be subjective. For this reason, HEART impresses with didacticism. Each of the initial parameters covers a number of other metrics that can be applied to the product as a whole – or a specific function—all of this to provide a complete experience analysis possible.
Check out what is evaluated in each of HEART’s parameters:
Happiness measures the user’s attitudes, usually collected through satisfaction surveys, such as the Net Promoter Score, and evaluates the ease of use perceived by those who use an interface.
Measures the level of user involvement with the product/service. The metrics evaluated here are more numerical, such as the number of visits, the average time of use, and even the number of service indications to third parties. It is very similar to what you do when measuring social media performance.
Adoption measures the number of new users who converted, that is, who started using the product. It is possible to segment this by functionality, which makes the analysis even more accurate. We need to pay attention to new users and updates for the latest version of the product in this phase.
Retention is the most important for many executives, being the key metric for customer loyalty. It measures the frequency and the return rate of users. This means the constant use or return to an application.
The task’s success rate measures effectiveness, efficiency, and error rate, conditions that prevent users from performing a specific action on the platform or interface. It is linked to the purpose of the experiment and the proposed objective.
Errors represent friction that must be eliminated. With this metric, it is possible to evaluate the percentage of times that errors prevent users from taking action.
Google HEART also signals three other contact points that must be observed: goals, signals, and metrics.
- Goals – are more comprehensive. Our goal here at MJV is for the visitor rate is to remain high. For us, this indicates that we could effectively resolve your doubts, attesting to the quality of the content we produce.
- Signs – numbers that assist in measuring the evolution of the goal. This means the variables like your browsing time on the blog or the number of shares in that post.
- Metrics – these should be more detailed, such as the number of people who read a specific article. This acts as a funnel for the number of people who will send us emails wanting to know more about the subject and even in conversations with the commercial team.
If you did not see the message “How likely are you to recommend this site to a friend?” during your last Internet purchase, those companies might have missed an excellent opportunity to collect valuable usability feedback.
This type of feedback is what supports the Net Promoter Score (NPS) validation. This metric indicates the likelihood of its user recommending a product, service, or experience to third parties. The question that NPS asks the user is:
“Do you endorse the type of experience you had on this interface?”
Generally, this type of evaluation is given on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the worst possible experience and 10 being the UX’s supreme culmination.
The qualitative cluster of evaluations is divided into 3, with equivalence in the possible grades:
- Promoters: users who assign grades 9 or 10 to the experience represent high satisfaction and indicate great recommendation chances.
- Liabilities: grades 7 or 8 represent a moderate degree of satisfaction but a lower possibility of recommendation. This feedback does not enter the calculation.
- Detractors: grades ranging from 0 to 6 represent considerable dissatisfaction about the experience. It may indicate a lack of adaptation to the interface.
Okay, but how do you calculate your NPS?
- To calculate the Net Promoter Score, the first step is to disregard the number of passive assessments.
- Then, the percentage of detractors is subtracted from the percentage of promoters. The scale ranges from -100% (detractors only) to + 100% (promoters only).
The ease with which data is collected, answering a single question, is an excellent advantage of the Net Promoter Score. This dramatically increases the likelihood of users responding to the request.
This mini-survey also proves with quantitative data related to an interface’s effectiveness in guiding the user to complete the task and the degree of satisfaction they receive.
Also, it acts as a real-time alert on the need for quick adjustments to usability in the event of negatives, for example.
The fundamental problem of NPS
NPS has some limitations. The first is that it concerns a single question. It is also only possible to evaluate the opinion of users who have completed the task in question.
The method does not establish parameters such as performance or task completion time. Furthermore, it does not segregate the optimal experiences from the good – or terrible from the bad. And there is a lot of insight to be had in these “gray areas.”
It is important to emphasize that disregarding liabilities and classifying detractors – of such varied opinions (0 to 6) – in the same group favors imprecision.
NPS is a strong indicator of customer loyalty. It is a straightforward metric that is well accepted by users. But remember: it is not a qualitative approach. We recommend that you combine it with other UX strategies to obtain a holistic assessment of your product, service, or experience.
As we have seen, usability is not exactly easy to measure. The System Usability Scale, or SUS, is a numerical usability scale created by John Brooke, a UX professional who worked at Digital Equipment Corporation in 1986.
SUS is widely used for its versatility – it can be applied to evaluate various areas such as software, hardware, and other types of interfaces. The method is also quite popular among UX professionals for bringing well-targeted insights to the table.
SUS helps to evaluate criteria such as:
- Effectiveness – shows whether users can complete their objectives.
- Efficiency – what efforts and resources were required.
- Satisfaction – if the user experience was good.
The questionnaire consists of 10 questions, which must be answered by the user with grades ranging from 1 to 5 – where 1 means total disagreement and 5 general agreement about a given statement.
The best application of SUS happens at the end of the navigation experience through a platform or interface. Where your questions can be adapted for the evaluation of the product in question, check it out!
- I think I would like to use this system often
- I find the system unnecessarily complex
- I found the system easy to use
- I think I would need help from someone with technical knowledge to use it
- I think the various functions of the system are very well integrated
- I think the system has a lot of inconsistency
- I imagine people will learn how to use it quickly
- I found the system difficult to use
- I felt confident using this system
- I needed to learn a lot of new things before I was able to use the system
On a scale of 0 to 100, the SUS score has an average of 68.
If your application or website rating is below average, it is likely that we are facing an application with critical usability problems.
“Wait, I thought the maximum was 50 points”. We can explain.
For odd questions, it is necessary to subtract 1 from the grade the user assigned.
For even questions, subtract 5 from the grade given (5-x).
Then add the 10 values and multiply by 2.5. This is your score.
The System Usability Score offers an excellent overview of the scenario we are dealing with and accurate feedback for improving strategy.
UX is research: know your user.
There are no arguments as strong as numbers and statistics. Showing stakeholders that the strategy is working is the best way to justify the importance of investing in UX and thereby generating a return on investment.
And since we’re talking about user experience, it is necessary to think primarily about the user. For that, it is essential to know their challenges, their goals and develop solutions based on this information.
Three simple steps will help you get to know your user better.
Personas are characters built based on real people’s characteristics, idealized to represent the different users who will use a particular service.
Creating personas is an effective way to understand the different contexts in which users may be inserted – and the varying levels of difficulty that different audiences may have when interacting with your solution.
It is also a method that helps to understand users’ needs, behaviors, and objectives, crucial information for developing products, software, and applications, among other digital solutions.
Use wireframes as prototypes
A wireframe is a graphical representation used to simulate a website or application’s layout, demonstrating how essential elements of the interface are organized.
This graphic scheme can be done with a pencil and paper, then validated, prototyped in a digital, interactive, and more detailed way.
Do usability tests
The usability test is when you find out how functional and intuitive your product is. It consists of watching your user complete tasks using a prototype. The objective is to detect friction and difficulties in usability.
These tests begin to run in the early stages of development: the sooner problems are diagnosed, the less time and money will be consumed by the end of the project.
What is more advantageous?
Invest 1 dollar at the beginning of the process, using prototypes and personas in your research or having to spend 10x more to modify the design at an advanced stage of development?
Or worse, having to pay 100x more to change an entire product after it’s done? This is the rule known as 1:10:100.
User-centric companies have more remarkable growth in the medium and long term, generating a feeling of connection with the consumer. Promoting good user experiences should be the ultimate goal as a way to ensure better performance and adherence.
Relatively simple actions, such as the integration of development and usability teams, can accelerate these results. Good UX is an investment.
But we must remember: like any investment; it must be justified.
It is important to note that good UX manages to balance experiences of value for customers and increase KPIs and ROI. It is a symbiotic relationship – and one cannot benefit without the other.
Start measuring your UX strategy today!Back