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ROI of UX: cost savings & avoiding web design lawsuits

  • Published on May 1, 2019
ROI of UX: cost savings & avoiding web design lawsuits

The typical return on investment (ROI) of user experience (UX) design processes generally involves time saved, projects meeting business objectives and exceeding client expectations. Avoiding lawsuits can now be added as another benefit to increase the ROI of UX, as a failed web design project led to a $32 million lawsuit earlier this month that likely could have been avoided by following UX best practices and processes. A recently filed lawsuit presents a clear and devastating picture of what happens when UX design principles are not followed. The UX design lawsuit involves the car rental company Hertz who brought litigation against the consulting firm Accenture.

Successful web design projects follow UX design principles and processes which considers a variety of factors including objectives for the project, user needs and business objectives. Wireframes and prototypes help to convey the UX, and these are generally delivered along with documentation and assets that are needed for a successful website redesign project. The bigger the web design or app project, the more important to follow the UX process. While larger investments of time and money make following the user experience design process a priority, it is the reliance of organizations on websites and apps for revenue, sales, and marketing that make a successful design, development, and deployment process critical. A failed app or website results in lost sales, revenue, and creates a competitive disadvantage. In the worst-cases, it can put an entire business at risk.

Hertz outsourced its website design and development to Accenture, an international firm that claims expertise in management and technology consulting. The website is used by its customers to arrange car rentals at hundreds of Hertz locations both in the U.S. and internationally. The $32 million web design and app development project was scheduled to take 16 months. According to a lawsuit about the web design and development project the initial delivery date was missed, and an updated date was also missed, with the project still not complete as it approaches three-years from the date the project was started. In the lawsuit, Hertz claimed that despite paying the consulting firm millions, “Accenture never delivered a functional website or mobile app.” The suit details a number of problems with the web design and development work by Accenture, including that the site does not include responsive web design that changes based upon device type or browser width, and instead includes only fixed options for desktop or mobile viewing. When asked to deliver a layout for tablets and mid-sized browsers, Accenture "demanded hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional fees.” After paying millions and not receiving a website or app, Hertz terminated Accenture’s work on the project. The web design lawsuit also seeks “millions of dollars in additional costs that it has incurred in remediating and completing the project.” Accenture told Hertz that they could fix the problems with the website and app, but it would require an additional $10 million for the work on top of the $32 million already paid.

Successful web design and application development projects generally include UX documentation that supplements visual wireframes and interactive prototypes. The user experience documentation clearly defines required functionality and usability. UX documentation accompanying user interface (UI) assets defines clear requirements for developers implementing the web or application. Clear documentation, objectives, and an involved UX team are generally able to deliver at least a minimally viable product, a goal that never was reached by Accenture according to Hertz’s claims.

Hertz had wished to use the site’s initial U.S. work as a foundation for localized websites and apps in other countries. Although common platforms such as Drupal and Joomla allow for themes to be shared across sites, the development work on this project was done using Angular 2 and didn’t allow for the app or websites core foundation to be re-used on other sites according to the complaint. "Accenture deliberately disregarded the extensibility requirement and wrote the code so that it was specific to the Hertz brand in North America and could not be used for the Hertz global brand or for the Dollar and Thrifty brands.”

The code for the project also created new security problems, which were not acceptable on a website in which customers would enter personal and financial information. "Accenture’s developers wrote the code for the customer-facing ecommerce website in a way that created serious security vulnerabilities and performance problems."

Rather than implementing a turn-key analytics solution such as Google Analytics, Accenture decided to try and use Adobe's AEM analytics and their implementation of this “made the application unreliable and difficult to maintain, as well as making future updates challenging and inefficient.”

While usability testing is a critical component of the UX design process, Hertz claims that their multi-million-dollar website project either wasn’t tested in some areas, and in other areas that were tested "they were seriously inadequate, to the point of being misleading."


About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices. Jennifer holds the CPUX-F credential from the UXQB.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern UX Design, and worked closely with the Microsoft Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including XD, Sketch, Balsamiq, Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Blend for Visual Studio. She also works extensively in the fields of presentation design and visual design.