UX Design is More Concrete than You Think

June 4, 2015by Rémy Rey-De BarrosProduct0


So explain this fluffy idea of User-Experience(UX) to me…

The basics of UX design is a big umbrella term that states how something is designed for the best experience for the user while using a product. It looks at how the human interacts with the computer and the outcome of that interaction.

Imagine yourself going on a random website – What is your first impression? A website with a great UX design provides a pleasurable experience in the interaction between user and the website, enhances customer satisfaction and attains the user’s loyalty and recommendations.

UX focuses on having a deep understanding of users – their needs, what they value, their abilities and also their limitations.

User experience is not just about visual design but a combination of skillsets including interaction design, information architecture and user research. It has a lot to do with research about how to provide a meaningful and valuable user experience. There are many forms of User-Experience research methods such as first click testing, usability testing, conducting focus group interviews as well as eye-tracking.


Why Should I Invest in UX Design?

In this day and age of metrics and measurements, many find it hard to propose the benefits of UX investment to their companies due to its ‘intangibility’. On the big picture scale, a good UX design can lead to

  • increased productivity
  • increased sales, lower costs for customer acquisition
  • increased brand loyalty (You only need to think about Apple)
  • increased market share
  • lower support costs

Most importantly, measuring the ROI of UX design is definitely possible(not fluffy at all!). Just like the days where people used to think measuring the returns on marketing effort and branding is impossible, UX as a relatively new-comer in the digital world is going through this same phase.


Measuring the Quality of UX: Google’s HEART Framework

A group of UX researchers at Google came up with a simple framework to qualify user experience call the HEART framework which can be applied to a whole product or specific feature:

Measures of user attitudes via survey. For example: satisfaction, perceived ease of use, and net-promoter score.

Level of user involvement measured via behavioral proxies such as frequency and depth of interaction over some time period. Examples might include the number of visits per user per week or the number of photos uploaded per user per day.

New users of a product or feature.

The rate at which existing users are returning, as well as failure to retain.

Task success:
This includes traditional behavioral metrics of user experience, such as efficiency (e.g. time to complete a task), effectiveness (e.g. percent of tasks completed), and error rate.

The first task is to figure out how to measure success for your specific project by Business Goals.

Business Goals Measurements
Improve Performance – Reduced user errors
– Increased traffic/audience size
– Number of return visits
Increase Sales – Increased transactions/purchases
– Reduced drop-off
Increase User Engagement – Number of visits per user per week
– Number of shares
– Number of photos uploaded per user per day
Adoption – Upgrades to latest version of product/software
– New subscriptions
– Purchases made by new users
Retention – Repeat purchases
– Renewal rate or failure to retain (churn)
– Number of active users
Task Success – Search result success
– Time to complete a task(ie, complete a purchase)
– Time to create a user profile


Measuring the ROI of UX

ROI is about measuring the economic outcome of UX activities. From a general perspective, success can be defined from an improvement in the metrics listed above. However, you can go deeper by quantifying the cost savings of investing in UX design.
In simplistic terms:

  1. Decide on a key indicator
  2. Estimate lost opportunity/cost of poor UX
  3. Project the cost of research and budget needed to fix the poor UX
  4. Divide net productivity savings/cost = ROI

Let’s take for example you are aiming for increased productivity for your call-centre agents. By optimising the process of the task on a page can save 2.5 minutes off a 5-minute task that is performed 5 times a day.

  1. Key indicator – improved productivity
  2. Cost of poor UX – 2.5 minutes per person of a 50-person team.
    • Average time savings daily per person = 2.5 minutes x 5 = 12.5 minutes
    • Total time savings per day = 12.5 minutes x 50 persons = 625 minutes
    • Assume average cost per minute of man-hours= $0.33
    • Average daily savings = $206.25
    • Average annual savings based on 240 work days = $49,500
    • If lifespan of the product is 3 years, the total estimated savings = $148,500
  3. Cost of UX Project = $20,000
  4. Net savings = $128,500

ROI for improving productivity = 642.5%


Metrics let you measure the value of your investment in UX design not just in qualitative terms- the abstract value of having happy users – but in terms of the cost savings in improved productivity or increased sales. So there you go, we hope we’ve completed our task of demystifying the intangibility of User Experience!

Rémy Rey-De Barros

Founder & Creative Director at Pixel Tie. Rémy has a particular enthusiasm for all things digital and interactive. He is also a Serial Bread & Cheese Eater, Mountain Biker & Proud Philatelist.