The field of UX design is vast and expansive. It impacts every organization in the world. No business remains untouched by modern design sensibilities. As Adam Judge has said, “The alternative to good design is bad design. There is no such thing as no design.”
But what is the worth of good design to an organization? Do UX designers add value to businesses in tangible and intangible ways? Yes! Studies suggest that the ROI of UX design could be as high as 9,900%! Furthermore, according to McKinsey, companies that score in the top quartile of the McKinsey Design Index outperform industry benchmark growth by 2:1.
Let’s look at an example: Bank of America saw a 45% increase in customers after investing in good UX design for their five-step online-banking enrollment process. Good UX design not only entices users but has the potential to greatly increase conversions, generating value for a business in the most literal sense of the word.
Design clearly improves revenues, customer retention, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty. UX designers introduce positive, quantifiable and qualitative changes to products and services. In this article, I’ll explore such changes.
Positive, Quantifiable Design Contributions
Any company can generate enormous value by investing in design, but this is particularly true of digital enterprises, as Figure 1 depicts.
Let’s look at some staggering numbers that demonstrate the value of UX design’s contributions:
Eighty-nine percent of users purchase from a competitor after a poor customer experience. Good experience design is more than a luxury. It is a modern necessity. Every business should invest in ensuring a positive user experience. Otherwise, they are actively pushing their customers toward the competition.
Seventy percent of new projects fail because of a lack of user acceptance. This demonstrates that good UX design can help a company succeed in the marketplace, and UX research can even help them diversify their offerings. UX design also has a major impact on innovation and the successful introduction of new products and services.
Investing in good UX design can reduce development time by up to 55%. Thus, engaging UX designers on a project reduces its costs and shortens the overall development cycle.
Eighty percent of post-launch fixes in digital products impact the user experience. Implementing a well-designed user experience from the beginning prevents headaches later on.
Investing in good UX design reduces support costs by up to 90%. Many organizations have reported such reductions in support costs after investing in good UX design. Thus, UX design has long-term benefits, as well as delivering the short-term advantages I’ve already mentioned. Such is the value of good UX design.
Good UX design improves key performance indicators (KPIs) by up to 83%. Thus, UX design helps companies to achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves more consistently. These improved KPIs represent all the value that UX design had added throughout design, development, and even post launch.
Positive, Qualitative Design Contributions
It’s no surprise that good UX design delivers massive value. Its return on investment (ROI) is nearly immeasurable. Now, let’s consider some of the more intangible benefits and added value that good UX design provides.
1. Providing an In-Depth Understanding of Users
The discipline of UX design always puts the user first. As represented in Figure 2, user research provides a comprehensive understanding of users and their needs and behaviors that is foundational for any UX designer.
This knowledge adds business value. Companies collectively spent a $20 billion in data solutions in 2017 alone, in the pursuit of a better understanding of the needs and wants of consumers. But UX professionals offer so much more by creating personas and storyboards that are based on their user research. UX researchers not only collect data, but interpret it, extrapolating their impressions from that data to create user personas representing the people who use our products.
Plus, the logic loop of usability testing is an integral part of an iterative design process, to ensure that everything starts and ends with the user in mind. Naturally, this understanding leads to products that are better tailored to users’ needs. Being able to accurately understand users’ needs holds the key to unlocking many business opportunities.
2. Establishing Brand Value and Memorability
Over the past few decades, some of the most iconic and memorable brand elements have been the work of a UX designer. Although these may be visual-design elements such as Facebook’s legendary Like button or Amazon’s use of their perfectly satisfying shade of orange, this rings true for all aspects of UX design—at least in all organizations that are smart enough to leverage design fully.
Another good example is Instagram’s nearly addictive refresh swivel, which has become an identifier for the brand, but depends more on interaction design than visual design. Businesses whose foundation is design thinking can always make more of a mark on branding than those relying on corporate business tactics alone. In a modern digital context, the visuals and interactions that account for so many user touchpoints demonstrate this amply. Seventy-three percent of consumers cite brand value as an important factor in their purchasing decisions. Therefore, fostering strong brand recognition adds massive value for any organization and having a design thinker working in the world of branding can make a huge impact on any company.
3. Establishing a Competitive Advantage
Typically, the thing separating a good brand from a great one is design. While, today, there are many free tools available for creating one’s own application or Web site, it’s unlikely that a product that was designed using one of these tools would live up to what a professional UX designer can create.
Users might not be able to tell you why they prefer a well-designed product, but they can certainly recognize that they prefer it to an inferior one. Experience design in particular can seem intangible to most users, but it still impacts their decision making. Many scholars cite Facebook’s UX design as the reason it dominated MySpace as the “world’s largest social-media platform.” Facebook eases users into the sensitive process of giving up their personal information, making them more comfortable and eventually gaining their trust in the platform. Conversely, MySpace required users to input a lot of personal data up front. The Facebook user interface always looked and felt more modern than MySpace. Plus, Facebook has updated its user interface more regularly—another reason for the demise of MySpace.
4. Imbuing a Culture with Design Thinking
The ways in which UX designers research, approach, and solve some of the biggest challenges facing the world is unique, but very effective. As Figure 3 depicts, a design-thinking culture is now integral to business success.
The design-thinking process is one of the most crucial tools in a UX designer's toolkit. This five-step design thinking process is as follows:
Empathize—Identify and study a problem and gather knowledge about the people it affects most.
Define—Create a problem statement and focus your entire project on solving it.
Ideate—Begin generating ideas and brainstorming possible solutions for the issue.
Prototype—Create and represent these design solutions, initially in a rough form.
Test—Iteratively test and refine your design solutions, addressing usability issues.
Design thinking also offers the benefit of being a multifaceted approach. But, even more special than these steps is the cyclical nature of the design-thinking process. It’s more of a loop than a linear journey with no particular end in sight. This creates a mindset of continuous improvement and iterative design, which permeates design and creates a culture of Kaizen throughout an entire business organization.
5. Breaking Down Barriers Between Physical and Digital Products and Services
Over recent decades, businesses have changed a lot and now offer cross-channel user experiences, as depicted in Figure 4. Service providers urge us to use digital products and physical stores aim to deliver a satisfying purchasing experience.
One company that does this masterfully is Apple. While the company develops and markets hardware, customers also pay for the digital user experience, as well as the service experience that Apple provides. The process of buying an Apple product involves far more than choosing a physical device. Apple’s immaculate stores are designed for the customer experience. Their products’ unboxing experience is superior to that of other products. Their hardware is beautifully designed for fit and finish. Their software is among the best in the world. It’s their attention to detail and end-to-end process control that have elevated Apple to the top of their industry. This would not have been possible without the work of some of the finest process designers in the world.
It’s no secret that UX design’s relevance to business has been growing exponentially since the dawn of the information age. The digital revolution has inextricably bound all aspects of our world together. Different experiences—from human to digital to physical—flow seamlessly together to deliver the overall consumer experience.
There is no doubt that UX designers are the ones who best understand and handle the entire design-thinking process. Most people recognize the ROI of UX design for their organizations, which undoubtedly generates significant monetary value. But much of the value that UX designers can bring to an organization is far more intangible. Hopefully, this column has revealed some of the intangible value that UX designers can deliver to an organization.
Manik was introduced to design when he was building Placesso, a ride-sharing platform based on Facebook’s social graph. While they never launched the platform, the experience taught Manik a lot about design and development. Since then, he has stayed with design. He and his friends began spending a lot of time discussing the designs of newly launched apps, exploring ways to improve their user experience. They felt really badly about people using poor designs so, in 2014, launched Ketchup Designs Studio. In 2015, they changed the name to Onething Design. Since then, they’ve helped a lot of businesses design products people love to use. Read More