I recently had a colleague ask me about specific areas Usability could save companies money and I thought I would share with everyone. Overall, User Experience activities are intended to reduce risk by identifying and mitigating inefficiencies in a system interface which can translate into dollar savings in a variety of ways:

  • Employee productivity - system efficiency can save employee time and increase productivity. Usability testing can actually measure the time taken to complete tasks and quantitatively measure time savings for improvements to the interface. The cost of saving all employees one hour of their time over the course of a year can easily be calculated by taking an average hourly rate and multiplying it by the number of employees that use the system (divide by 60 for a savings per minute).
  • Data entry errors - poorly designed system interfaces increase the likelihood of data entry errors for employees and users alike. Any reasonable estimate of the time spent by employees correcting data entry errors over the course of a year can be translated into how much a 1% reduction in errors would save the organization. Usability testing can measure and track the success rate of users on the system, informing the project team of potential cost savings realized through improvements to the design.
  • User Adoption (or lack of adoption) - for many organizations, customer transactions conducted online typically cost a fraction of what the same transaction costs over other channels (in-person, over the phone, snail mail, etc). That being said, if an online system is difficult to use, users will opt for other channels to conduct their transactions. Cost savings can be calculated by determining what a 1% transactional shift to an online channel would mean in dollar terms. Quantitative metrics collected through Usability testing can help organizations ground their assumptions of whether improvements to the system can realize these greater efficiencies - thereby justifying the cost of the development and testing effort.

In these and many other ways, Usability can help organizations improve the efficiency of their systems and quantify those improvements in dollar terms. This activity can quickly justify the cost of Usability testing on projects. Industry-wide, greater adoption of Usability testing has been subsequently observed. If you would like more information about how you could implement User Experience activities at your company, please feel free to contact me.