User experience (UX) has been a buzzword in product development already for years. Since computers spread to households, people have been demanding products that are useful, usable, and desirable. From the consumer products the requirement of good user experience has spread also to other industries and to professionally used products. Unfortunately some organizations still do not seem to understand the value of UX.
Authors: Petteri Häkkinen & Brett Fifield
UX metrics help measuring the success of UX design
User experience metrics are attributes that show whether the chosen user experience strategy is working or not. With the help of UX metrics it is possible to set targets, track changes over time, and benchmark against iterations of your own product or those of competitors. (Pavliscak 2014.) Tracking UX metrics for products is important and brings many benefits. If the UX is not measured, how can it be known how it is performing? How to know if design changes made are for the better or for the worse? (Turner 2018.)
Utilization of the UX metrics in the measurements can help bringing extra value for the business. For example, in laboratory automation product development utilizing UX metrics and the results of the measurements can help focusing the UX design resources on right things, show the benefits of usability engineering and UX design, increase customer satisfaction, improve brand image, bring extra value to the end users, and achieve savings. (Häkkinen 2020.)
Calculating the ROI of UX
Designing user experience that fits customer’s expectations and at the same time meets business goals involves effort and investment, but it is definitely worth it. UX design has proven to have a positive return on investment. Often UX is the factor that differentiates successful products from the unsuccessful ones. (Tej 2019.)
Sometimes the value of UX design might be questioned since all design work does not have value and also all valuable design work is not of equal value. In UX design the ROI is often about eliminating poor design. It might not be about how much more income to generate but more about how to reduce the costs. (Spool 2018.)
The ROI of UX activities should be considered more as an estimation than sophisticated financial forecasts. They are estimates of how much value the company is getting as a result of the investment. It is important to understand that the ROI of UX is not always just all about money. It is more about demonstrating that design that improves the user experience has a positive impact on the business goals which can sometimes be also not directly related to money. (Moran 2020.)
Organizations that invest in UX design are proven to perform better measured on many different criteria. For example, organizations with top-quartile McKinsey Design Index scores are shown to generate revenue twice as much compared to industry benchmarks (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Organizations with top-quartile McKinsey Design Index scores outperform industry benchmark growth (Andrews 2020).
Speak the language of business
Often the terms and language used by the UX and business personnel differ from each other. The UX designers and developers speak in terms of “sprints,” “experiences,” and “journeys” whereas the finance and sales personnel use other terms. The first step to do is to adjust the UX terminology to the language of the business. This is started with a list of the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) that finance and sales track. Different organizations emphasize slightly different KPIs based on their field of industry, stage of development, and priorities, but e.g. profit margin, employee productivity, and net promoter score are common examples of the KPIs. (Andrews 2020.)
UX metrics are commonly used to measure the user experience and to communicate the business impact of the UX design. In order to choose the right UX metrics one needs to understand business goals and know how to translate them to UX metrics (Nguyen 2020). The right UX metrics are the ones that impact the company’s business goals (Zibell 2017).
Show the costs of bad design
The use of UX metrics, calculating the ROI of UX, and changing the terminology to business terms should do the trick to convince everyone in the organization to take user experience seriously. If showing the positive case studies of UX design is anyway not enough the approach of showing costs of bad design can be successful.
This can be done by starting with frustrations caused by poor experiences. Examples from the own organization are the most effective ones. As an example, the frustrations can be related to salespeople trying to sell a product that is hard to demonstrate or development managers watching their teams rewriting the interface code and building features that are not even used. After the frustrations caused by poor experiences are found out it is time to identify the frustration costs. These costs include costs due to lost sales revenue, increased support costs, lost productivity costs, wasted development rework, and unused feature development. It is even better if the frustration costs can be calculated or at least estimated. Often, even rough estimates are all that are needed to get people’s attention. Once the frustration costs are identified the next thing to do is to find the people in charge of the costs. These people are often in a role that has power and influence to make things happen. Suddenly you will notice that UX has become an important factor in the organization. (Spool 2017.)
Andrews, W. 2020. How to Calculate the ROI of UX. [Cited 29 November 2020]. Available at: https://medium.com/@wardandrews/how-to-calculate-the-roi-of-ux-6dbb7464bd4e
Häkkinen, P. 2020. UX metrics – measuring the success of usability and user experience in laboratory automation product development. Master´s thesis. LAB University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Business and Hospitality Management. Lahti. [Cited 28 November 2020]. Available at: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:amk-2020120125393
Moran, K. 2020. Three Myths About Calculating the ROI of UX. [Cited 28 November 2020]. Available at: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/three-myths-roi-ux/
Nguyen, T. 2020. A metrics-driven approach to evaluate success of UX design. [Cited 29 November 2020]. Available at: https://uxdesign.cc/a-metrics-driven-approach-to-evaluate-success-of-ux-design-dd3bea098820
Pavliscak, P. 2014. Choosing the Right Metrics for User Experience. [Cited 28 November 2020]. Available at: https://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2014/06/choosing-the-right-metrics-for-user-experience.php
Spool, J. M. 2017. A Proven Method For Showing The Value Of Good UX. Cited 28 November 2020]. Available at: https://articles.uie.com/a-proven-method-for-showing-the-value-of-good-ux/
Spool, J. M. 2018. Yes, Alan, There Is An ROI For UX Design. [Cited 28 November 2020]. Available at: https://articles.uie.com/yes-alan-there-is-an-roi-for-ux-design/
Tej, R. 2019. ROI calculation for UX Design. [Cited 28 November 2020]. Available at: https://tejjj.medium.com/roi-calculation-for-ux-design-64dbbf12de82
Turner, N. 2018. 6 key UX metrics to focus on. [Cited 28 November 2020]. Available at: http://www.uxforthemasses.com/ux-metrics/
Zibell, K. 2017. Choose the Right UX Metrics to Show Business Impact. [Cited 29 November 2020]. Available at: https://firstname.lastname@example.org/choose-the-right-ux-metrics-to-show-business-impact-7aafc5f33beb
Petteri Häkkinen is studying in the MBA, International Business Development program at LAB University of Applied Sciences.
Brett Fifield is a Principal Lecturer in International Business at LAB University of Applied Sciences.
Illustration: https://unsplash.com/photos/qC2n6RQU4Vw (The Unsplash License)
Reference to this article
Häkkinen, P. & Fifield, B. 2020. How to convince organizations to take user experience seriously? LAB Pro. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at: https://www.labopen.fi/en/lab-pro/how-to-convince-organizations-to-take-user-experience-seriously/