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ROI of UX : How user experience improves return on investment

  • Published on January 13, 2021
ROI of UX : return on investment for user experience design

The importance of UX (user experience) extends beyond application and website development, and impacts the success entire organizations. The return on investment (ROI) of UX includes improved customer retention, more customer recommendations, additional repeat customers, and enhanced credibility. More than half of visitors to a website indicate that a poor experience on mobile devices makes them less likely to engage with a company in the future, and 75% determine the credibility of an organization based upon the website. Other studies have shown nearly 90% of visitors to a website are less likely to return if they have encountered a bad experience. These statistics underscore the importance of UX for any business that has a website or app, regardless of their organization size or the type of services or products they provide.

The ROI of UX Investments

Investing in user experience provides a considerable return on investment. Every dollar spent on UX has an ROI that doubles that investment, and can provide up to a 500% return. Companies that invest in user experience research find their customers are significantly more likely to remain with that same brand (15.8%) and by a similar percent, more likely to recommend the product or service (16.6%).

A better user experience even increases the willingness to pay a premium (14.4%), showing one way that UX improves profitability. Taken together, investments in UX provide a ROI with the ability to charge a premium, retain customers, and have existing clients become advocates. Taken together, these show that there is an ROI to UX, and a return on investment for UX Training as well.

Importance of UX Design ROI

There is growing evidence that the UX Design ROI is as significant as the return generated on the entire UX process. This extends from the development process through to customer experience. In many organizations, more than 50% of web developer’s time is used revising and reworking projects due to incomplete or unclear directions. The user experience design process provides developers with documentation, assets, and directions that enables projects to be completed with fewer revisions. Outside the development process, more than 90% of users to a website base their first impressions of the organization on the site design. An effective and clean UX provides immediate credibility that extends to long-term relationships.

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.

ROI of UX Design for Websites and Apps

The ROI for user experience occurs with successful web and app design projects as they follow UX design principles and processes. These consider a variety of factors including objectives for the project, user needs and business requirements. 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. Part of the return on investment for user experience processes is the reduction of risk and the likelihood of delivering a product that meets user and business needs. Another factor in the ROI of UX is the faster delivery of a project, with less time needed for rework. A good example of importance of the UX process can be found in a multi-million dollar website redesign project that did not meet business requirements, user needs, and resulted in a lawsuit.

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. Hertz indicates that core user experience design principles were ignored, and if implemented the ROI would have been signficant. 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. The return on investment of user experience best practices includes avoiding failure to meet user needs, and reducing risk of mistakes which can result in costly delays.

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” according to Hertz.

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."

With public UX courses, as well as private UX training and online UX classes there are many ways to improve individuals and organizational UX skills. Individuals can also conduct a deep-dive into a bootcamp-style UX certificate program to gain a well-rounded set of UX experience, or take individual workshops online and in Boston and also in Philadelphia.

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.