Return on investment

Discussion articles

  • A business case for usability
    John Rhodes argues that by taking advantage of usability principles and techniques, companies can increase revenues and profit margins while minimising costs. His views are based on academic research, industrial research, case studies and consulting experience.
    (John Rhodes, WebWord)

  • All those opposed: making the case for user experience in a budget-conscious climate
    "In any commercial enterprise, web sites exist for one of two reasons: to help the organisation save money, or to help it make money. In both cases, the user experience can make the difference between a successful site and a failure. In this article Jesse James Garrett rebutts some of the most common arguments against user-centred design."
    (Jesse James Garrett, Dr Dobb's Portal)

  • Clean cutting edge UI design cuts McAfee's support calls by 90%
    "When McAfee Inc. recently introduced its ProtectionPilot software--a dashboard-type management console for its Active VirusScan SMB Edition and Active Virus Defense SMB Edition suites--the trial downloads were fast and furious: In the first 10 weeks after release, more than 20,000 users went online to get a copy. Those 20,000 downloads of ProtectionPilot over a 10-week time span generated only 170 calls to McAfee's support lines--approximately one-tenth the volume that the company would expect, according to McAfee software development manager David Ries. And, roughly a third of those support calls were actually pre-sales questions."
    (Bruce Hadley, Software CEO)

  • Cost of user testing a website
    "It takes 39 hours to usability test a website the first time you try. This time estimate includes planning the test, defining test tasks, recruiting test users, conducting a test with five users, analysing the results, and writing the report. With experience, web user tests can be completed in two work days."
    (Jakob Nielsen, Alertbox)

  • Do productivity increases generate economic gains?
    "Usability improvements can save time-on-task, but critics argue that this is not the same as saving money. Others worry that productivity gains cause unemployment. Neither is correct: usable design saves money and saves jobs."
    (Jakob Nielsen, Alertbox)

  • Guerrilla HCI: using discount usability engineering to penetrate the intimidation barrier
    "One important reason usability engineering is not used in practice is the perceived cost of using the techniques. However, many usability techniques can be used quite cheaply, as Jakob Nielsen argues in this article."
    (Jakob Nielsen,

  • Intranet communication versus traditional communication
    "A way to measure return on investment (ROI) for your intranet is to answer two basic questions. How does the intranet increase the level and quality of communication? How does it replace traditional forms of communication? To develop such an ROI model, you need to be clear on the current level and type of communication within your organisation."
    (Gerry McGovern, New Thinking)

  • Intranet return on investment case studies
    "An intranet can deliver return on investment (ROI) by either reducing the cost, or expanding the ability, to communicate. By shifting manual processes to the intranet, the cost of accessing and processing information is reduced. The intranet speedily delivers information to large numbers of people. This gives the organisation a greater capacity to change."
    (Gerry McGovern, New Thinking)

  • Justifying user-centred design: calculating cost benefits
    A technique to show how to calculate the costs and benefits of user-centred design. It can also be used to compare different usability methods and aid selection of the most cost effective method.
    (Cost-effective User Centred Design)

  • Myths and measurements: Evaluating the ROI of design
    "Few people disagree with the notion that products are better when they are designed before being built. Yet why do so many companies remove design from the project schedule? Steve Calde debunks the misperceptions that lead business-decision makers to think that design adds costs to product development, when in fact they can't afford not to spend money on research and design."
    (Steve Calde, Cooper Journal of Design )

  • Professional usability testing and return on investment
    "Professional usability engineering and testing is a well-established development discipline that has been used extensively to create some of our most successful military and commercial systems. With the maturation of the web as a delivery model for information and e-commerce, the formal science of usability will become increasingly important. This paper discusses the return on investment (ROI) implications of integrating formal usability testing methods into web development projects."
    (Charles L Mauro, ViewPointz)

  • Return on investment for usability
    Jakob Nielsen argues that development projects should spend 10% of their budget on usability. Following a usability redesign, websites increase usability by 135% on average; intranets improve slightly less.
    (Jakob Nielsen, Alertbox)

  • Return on investment for usable, user interface design: examples and statistics (PDF)
    "Cost-benefit analyses consistently show healthy returns on the dollars invested in usability. As more companies understand the significant benefits of usability and do careful cost-justification, usability techniques will become standard... The goal of this article has been to make available an initial useful compendium of information about the ROI of usability."
    (Aaron Marcus, Aaron Marcus and Associates)

  • ROI faulty as measurement of IT success
    "Return on investment (ROI) is no longer seen as a key indicator of what does and what does not make technology investments work, a poll of 400 IT and financial directors in the UK has shown."
    (The Register)

  • ROI is not a silver bullet: five actionable steps for valuing user experience design
    "For years now, the 'ROI of User Experience' has been sought as a means to justify larger corporate investments in web design. Although ROI methodology can be a useful tool for prioritising possible web development projects, by itself ROI is not the answer to building a stronger user experience design competency."
    (Scott Hirsch, Adaptive Path)

  • Seven myths of usability ROI
    "Daniel Rosenberg began his talk by confessing that he doesn't believe in usability Return on Investment (ROI). Having spent 30 years in the field of user experience, and never having been asked to justify usability by its ROI, Rosenberg raises a question: Why are we still discussing this topic?"
    (Daniel Rosenberg, BayCHI)

  • The cost of frustration
    "Poor design creates friction. Friction can manifest itself as a shopper abandoning a sale. Alternatively, employees may spend more time than necessary obtaining a critical piece of information. The less the design jives with what the user is trying to accomplish, the more friction increases. Whenever friction occurs, someone becomes frustrated. The user may feel the frustration because they can't complete their task. Employers may become frustrated because their charges are taking too long for critical functions. A poor design results in high friction. High friction results in high frustration."
    (Jared M. Spool, User Interface Engineering)

  • The ROI of ROI
    "If companies expect their clients (those who hold the purse strings) to continue to invest in web development, they need to embrace the concept of ROI and learn how to measure it effectively."
    (Alan K'necht, Digital Web Magazine)

  • Usability is next to profitability
    "Software companies have finally grasped the value of easy-to-fathom programs, and they're pouring resources into the task."
    (Jane Black, Business Week Online)

  • Usability metrics
    "Although measuring usability can cost four times as much as conducting qualitative studies (which often generate better insight), metrics are sometimes worth the expense. Among other things, metrics can help managers track design progress and support decisions about when to release a product."
    (Jakob Nielsen, Alertbox)

  • Usability ROI: case studies
    "ROI calculations are an important piece of the business strategy puzzle. With positive ROI, company decision-makers can be emboldened that their initial expenditures will result in future savings. Many case studies have been documented companies' positive investments in usability."
    (Usability First)

  • Usability testing of documentation has many benefits of unknown value
    "A pilot study was conducted by a University of Houston graduate student on the costs and benefits of usability testing of documentation. The purpose of the study was to compare the costs versus the benefits of usability testing of documentation so that an average return on investment could be calculated."
    (Elaine Ostrander, Society for Technical Communication)

  • User experience accountability: assessing your impact on business results
    "We take for granted that good user experience design will help a business succeed. However, if there is a dissonance between business goals and project selection--as there often is--the web team has little control over a project's failure. One solution to this problem is for user experience designers to take responsibility only for the business metrics that correspond to user experience. Ongoing development and analysis of these metrics will give you great insight into your customer and the health of your online experience."
    (Scott Hirsch, Adaptive Path)

  • Valuing usability programs
    "Assume that a website has 10,000 users per month each performing 10 tasks in the period. What will be the economic effect of a usability study that promises 40 seconds faster user task performance?"
    (Kristoffer Bohmann, Bohmann Usability)