If you are a UX designer or researcher, you already know how important UX is and without a doubt can list the benefits and reasons why a company should invest in UX.
While UX expertise is generally wanted by most companies, and global players like Apple and IBM make strong business cases for the return of investment in UX, a lot of us still struggle to convince executives to invest in User Experience projects and to make UX a “must have” in every organization.
As anyone who has ever tried to pitch ideas to people knows well, persuasive (i.e. effective) communication is no easy feat. Your rate of success can be greatly improved, however, if you are using language your audience is already familiar with and you link your presentation to concepts that are already on the mind of your target audience – company executives in this case.
Is improving ROI not enough to persuade them?
There is a lot of research out there on the ROI of UX. The way of calculating it might vary but according to Tom Gilb’s book, Principles of Software Engineering Management, every dollar invested in UX yields a return between $2 and $100. While this is a powerful figure, especially if it is a public company and shareholder value is a driving force in every decision, it is often not enough.
Making a business case for investing in UX
Here are a few practical tips on how to create a perfect pitch for UX investment for your company:
1. Investigate within your Company
Have there already been internal talks on the possibility of investing more in UX? Is there a need at a management level for a bigger and differentiated UX team and for running research continuously? Is a lot of the research conducted in-lab?
You can start by finding out what your executives are already convinced of and what they think of UX and then present the idea that if they automate research efforts by implementing advanced software, which entails making an initial investment in UX, will pay off in the long run.
2. Analyze the Competition
Know what the competition is doing in terms of UX: Have they gained high-value customers because they had better usability and user experience? Are they hiring UX specialists? Do they ask for user feedback and run VoC studies on their site? You can usually find this information in press releases and is a valuable piece of information when presenting your case.
You could also run online benchmark studies to see where you stand compared to competitors. These are just a couple of suggestions that can give the management team in your company a good idea of what the competition is doing in terms of UX.
3. Link UX to Key Performance Indicators
Find out what business KPIs matter to your company and focus on linking UX benefits to these. We went ahead and identified 2 objectives for you that are generally important to the majority of companies:
- Reducing cost: Cost reduction can mean less wasted development time and a reduction of redesign costs. According to Dr. Susan Weinschenk up to 15% of IT projects are abandoned and at least 50% of a programmers’ time during the project is spent doing rework that is avoidable. This is a cost that could be reduced by implementing UX testing so that a user-oriented solution can be found early. Additionally, customer support cost can be lowered by finding and fixing potential issues before they arise at a user level. By finding out which area generates more costs within your company you can cherry-pick the benefits of investing in UX accordingly.
- Improving revenue: It goes without saying that revenue increase is a primary objective for the majority of companies. There is a tendency to focus on Web Analytics Data which only explain what people do on a site, e.g. abandon on a certain page. Only when combined with UX Research can companies identify why users behave a certain way. By gaining a deeper understanding of the reasons why your costumers behave the way they do, better designs can be implemented and marketing / strategic decisions can be made with more accuracy at the management level to meet the needs of end-users.
4. Example Pitches
In order to get your ideas flowing, here are a couple of ideas you could pitch to your stakeholders:
- Is “good enough” what you want our business to be? Investing more in UX will help the company set itself apart from the competition.
- We already know what users do on our site by analyzing web analytics data but we don’t know why they do it. By investing in UX research we would also understand their behavior and plan accordingly.
As the recent investment of $34 million in UserZoom demonstrates, more companies than ever are investing in UX as a business strategy to set them apart. The effort that it takes to gain insights to your company’s strategy, uncover how your competitors utilize UX, and to tailor your pitch accordingly pays off when executives begin to view investing in UX as a key to long-term competitive advantage and customer loyalty rather than just another cost.