3 Practical Reasons to Invest in UX Research and Design

Posted on January 6, 2015
4 min read


Here at UserTesting, we often hear the same question coming from two different angles.

  • Here’s what we hear from CEOs and CMOs: “User experience sounds nice, but at the end of the day, I’ve got a bottom line to think about. How do I justify a UX budget to our investors? Where does the ROI come in?”
  • And here’s what we hear from designers and researchers: “I know that user experience is important, but how do I convince our executive team to invest in it? How can I prove that it’s not just a bunch of feel-good stuff, and it’ll actually pay off?”

When most executives think about user experience, they think of creating a delightful workflow, building a beautiful interface, or improving accessibility. And let’s be clear: those things ARE important. But for most companies, they aren’t enough of a reason to justify a significant investment.

A lot of companies monitor their KPIs, make sure that they don’t have any severe bugs, and say, “good enough.” If they have the budget and bandwidth sometime in the future, maybe UX would be nice to look into.

But here’s the thing: “good enough” is holding these companies back. User experience research and design can give companies a huge advantage, and it’s worth the investment. Whether you’re a CEO, a marketer, a designer, or a researcher, here are three no-nonsense reasons why your company should invest in UX now.

1. Improving your UX saves you money

Reduce wasted development time

Developers’ time is extremely valuable. In a perfect world, developers would spend 100% of their time building awesome new products and features. In reality, an estimated 50% of engineering time is spent on doing rework that could have been avoided. What’s more, fixing an error after development is up to 100 times as expensive as it would have been before.

Don’t forget, in this context, an error isn’t necessarily a bug. It could be…

  • An incorrect assumption about how users will behave

  • A unique value proposition that doesn’t make sense to users

  • Confusing navigation that causes users to get stuck or lost

  • A design choice that isn’t accessible

  • A “really cool” new feature that nobody actually wants to use

[clickToTweet tweet="A little up-front UX research can save you hundreds of engineering hours and thousands of dollars." quote="A little up-front UX research can save you hundreds of engineering hours and thousands of dollars."]

Getting early feedback from your target market---and making research-backed, user-centered design decisions---can help you avoid those expensive errors, saving hundreds of engineering hours and thousands of dollars.

Decrease the cost of customer support

We frequently recommend that companies dig into their chat support log when they’re getting ready to start user testing. What problems are your users constantly running into? How many hours does your support team spend responding to those problems?

If you test and fix those problems proactively, and then use your findings to inform future designs, you can dramatically reduce the burden on your support team and save thousands of dollars.

2. Focusing on UX increases your revenue

Increase conversion rates

Everyone and their dog wants to improve their conversion rates. If you’re looking to double your revenue, it’s often easier, cheaper, and smarter to focus on doubling your conversion rate than doubling your traffic. Most companies are already investing in conversion rate optimization tactics like A/B testing, but these efforts fall flat if they’re based on guesswork rather than an actual understanding of the user.

Doing some up-front user research will give you real insights for improving your conversion rates. You can find out where users get frustrated, where they have trouble understanding your offerings, and what would keep them from converting. Then you can make fast changes to your design and copy to boost conversions right away for an automatic win.

UX research is a great complement to A/B testing and analytics: it helps you understand why customers behave the way they do, so you can make higher-converting design and marketing decisions.

Improve customer retention and loyalty

Customers who have a positive user experience are going to be more likely to stick with your products---and to become your brand advocates. Investing time and resources into customer experience (and we don’t just mean good design, but the entire relationship the user has with your company) will help you reduce churn and guarantee customer loyalty.

[clickToTweet tweet="Investing in customer experience will help you reduce churn and ensure loyalty." quote="Investing in customer experience will help you reduce churn and ensure loyalty."]

Measuring your Net Promoter Score is a great place to start. How likely would your customers be to recommend your company to a friend? How can you increase that likelihood? How much revenue could you generate from referrals made by happy customers?

3. Good UX gives you a competitive advantage

Gain competitor insights

User research is a great way to “spy” on your competition. You can easily run user tests on your competitors to find out what they’re doing right and whether users trust them over you. You can also find out which other companies in your industry your users are already doing business with, and why they like working with those companies.

Don’t fall behind

More companies than ever before are investing in UX and customer experience---and chances are, your competitors are, too. Customers are growing to expect good user experiences and becoming increasingly intolerant of bad ones.

Let’s be brutally honest. If your customers have an easier time doing business with your competitors, then that’s exactly what they’ll do.

Figure out your ROI, and go get that UX budget!

If you only take one thing away from this article, it should be this: Industry surveys have shown that every dollar invested in UX will bring $2 to $100 in return.

[clickToTweet tweet="Every dollar invested in UX will bring $2 to $100 in return." quote="Every dollar invested in UX will bring $2 to $100 in return."]

To get a more exact figure for your company, use these comprehensive UX ROI calculators to determine how much you could save on development and support costs and how much you could gain from an improved conversion rate.

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