By Mark McGrath, May 2020
Adopting a UX design approach will increase website performance and save you money in the long run. Not doing so will result in less website traffic, less satisfied users and higher costs to fix issues that could have been fixed earlier at a lower cost.
Most organisations get the idea of doing some user research to understand what they may want in a new website and some usability to fix some design issues. But that's only part of the story for building a website by adopting a user experience (UX) design approach.
To make the best website possible for your users, you need to adopt a full end to end UX design approach where every development phase of the website is informed by user research and testing.
So what does this actually mean? It means doing the following.
The complete UX design process
|Action||Why do it?||What are the risks of not doing this?|
To provide issues and preferences to include in your user survey.
To measure the relative importance of:
To help you decide content for your card sorting test.
To discover how users would prefer your content to be organised.
To help inform your information architecture development.
|An information architecture that may not make sense for your users.|
|IA testing||To identify any usability issues with your information architecture.||Content that is difficult to find for your users.|
|Wireframe testing||To identify any usability issues with your site interface concepts before you produce any design concepts||Wasting money and time on concept design work that would then needs to be reworked.|
|Design concept testing||To identify any usability issues with your design concepts before you build your website||Wasting money and time on website development that would then need to be redeveloped.|
|Website prototype testing||To identify any usability issues before you launch your website.||Reduced user satisfaction with your new website.|
|Post-launch user survey||To capture any usability issues not identified in the previous testing.|
Ongoing reputational damage to your organisation.
Reduced take-up of online services by your users.
Doing all of this research and testing can be expensive. But if you use an online service for remote testing and do your own recruiting, then you can do this work at a relatively low cost.
Using an expert consultant
Unless you are an experienced UX practitioner then you should use an expert UX consultant to help you:
- Facilitate interviews
- Design surveys
- Script tests
- Analyse test results and report findings
- Make recommendations on how to fix identified issues.
The money you save on doing this research online and recruiting participants yourself can be invested in the expertise of a UX consultant.
Not testing is false economy
Sure, you can save money by not doing any user testing and trusting your gut instincts instead. But this is false economy. By not investing in a UX design approach you are putting at risk the considerable spend you are making in a website redevelopment project.
By not investing in a UX design approach you are putting at risk the considerable spend you are making in a website redevelopment project.
Not doing this testing will mean:
1. An underperforming website that does not satisfy your users or;
2. More time and money fixing the usability problems you could have fixed earlier at less cost.
The reason why user testing will cost more later is that, as you pass each stage of a web development project, changing things become more expensive.
It's less costly to change a:
- sitemap than a wireframe diagram
- wireframe diagram than a design concept
- design concept than a website prototype
- website prototype than a completed website.
Investing in UX design provides good returns
The big picture here is that the more testing you do (earlier) for your website development project the better your website will perform in servicing your users.
There is a vast amount of research and case studies out there that proves that adopting a UX design approach provides a strong return on investment (ROI). Here is a small selection of this research.
- Spending 10% of your development budget on usability testing can improve website performance by 83%.1
- Development time can be reduced by up to 50% by using UX to define usability requirements at the start of a project2
- McAfee achieved a 90% reduction in support costs after usability testing for its ProtectionPilot service.3
Non-profit and government organisations still benefit from a UX design approach
Many ROI stats on adopting a UX design approach are based on commercial websites that are selling online services and products. But non-profit and government organisations can benefit from a UX design approach just as much even though they are not selling online.
Increased usability of non-profit and government websites from a UX design approach will increase conversions of site visitors into goals of these websites. Typical goals of non-profit and government websites are:
- Online payments
- Service requests
- e-Newsletter subscriptions
- Job applications
- Volunteer sign-ups
- Campaign petition sign-ups
Each of these actions provides value and increase the reach of these organisations.
At the very least though with only information pages, better website usability achieved through a UX design approach will produce an increased distribution of a non-profit or government organisation's information to their target audience. This on its own provides a clear return on investment in UX design.
Benefits of UX design
Adopting a full UX design approach will:
- Improve your website performance
- Increase your organisation's exposure
- Improve your organisation's reputation
- Reduce your website development and support costs
- Increase user take-up of website services
Not adopting a UX design approach provides only short-term cost savings which are ultimately outweighed by increased costs over the longer term and lower website performance.
Mark McGrath is the Principal Consultant and Director of Social Change Media.
1. Nielsen Norman Group, "Usability ROI Declining, But Still Strong", 21 January 2008. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-roi-declining-but-still-strong/.
2. Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange, ROI of UX panel discussion, 2009.
3. Strategic Data Consulting, Special Report, "UX Business Impacts and ROI", 2009.