The Value of User Experience-lead Design

IBM researcher Dr Claire-Marie Karat is quoted as stating “A rule of thumb is for every one dollar invested in User Experience (UX) research you save $10 in development and $100 in post-release maintenance”. The importance of User Experience (UX) expertise and application is substantial, and provides an immediate return.

HFI- who advise the US government on usability awareness- recommend 10% of IT development staff should be UX experts, and 10% of IT project; design or implementation budgets should be dedicated to User Experience.

By placing significant emphasis on User Experience you can substantially reduce the incidence of re-working requirement or inefficiencies in a product, and ensure the product is optimised for usage, whether that is increasing customer traffic and uptake, or reducing resource requirements internally. This is equally applicable to processes and tools alike.


For example- in ROI cost saving opportunities:


Removing errors before release:

(no. of errors) x (avg. repair time) x (employee cost) x (no. of employees) = cost savings

◦ Example: (2 errors/week) x (60 min’s) x (£30/hour) x (100 employees) = £6,0000/week or £300,000/year


Cost of Development and Maintenance:

(no. of changes) x (avg. hr’s/change) x (cost of developer) x (4, if late) = cost savings

◦ Example: (20 changes) x (8 hr’s each) x (£40/hour) = £6,400 if fixed early or £25,600 if changed late



(time saved) x (employee cost) x (no. of employees) = cost savings

◦ Example: (1 hr/week) x (£30/hr) x (100 employees) = £3,000/ week or £156,000/year

Obviously larger organisations and more complicated User Interfaces will realise larger saving opportunities!


If you have a public-facing website your user group becomes the size of your market population- potentially millions of people- making focus on User Experience an absolute necessity to optimise potential opportunities.

Other measurable benefits include:


Improve Performance

• Reduce number of user errors

• Increase ease of use

• Increase ease of learning


Increase Exposure (for public facing web sites)

• Increase traffic/ audience size

• Increase number of return visitors when appropriate (retain users)

• Increase number of new visitors (attract users)

• Increase number of visits from search


Improve Credibility

• Increase user satisfaction

• Increase trust in the system

• Increase number of visits referral


Reduce Resource Burden

• Reduce development costs

• Reduce development time

• Reduce maintenance costs

• Reduce redesign costs

• Decrease support costs

• Reduce training needed

• Reduce documentation costs


Increase Sales

• Increase transactions/ purchases

• Increase product sales

The benefits from having a User Experience focus are significant, tangible and (to a large part) predictable, so the risks for proceeding without this focus become untenable and unnecessary.

We hope you have found this article helpful, if you would like to discuss this further, contact