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"ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
Karatzas Katie <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 29 Oct 2002 10:51:22 +1000
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Hey Katie,

I’ll just tackle ‘The Big Question’ for now - ROI of usability...

Fortunately, many have had to tackle this before.

It's great that you have experience in industrial design - this gives 
you the perfect metaphor from which to work.  Think about the software 
architecture/user experience as your tooling costs.  

In software design, you can put things together on the fly, stumbling 
through and re-working objects or snippets of code, resulting in a 
rushed piece of work that is poorly/cowboy/spaghetti coded and very 
hard to maintain - say 30% design/70% coding - software engineers will 
understand this. Alternatively, this can be turned around, utilising 
the same amount of time (i.e. 70% design/30% coding), creating a 
comprehensive software architecture on paper, working out exactly 
which objects need to be coded, how they will interact with each other 
and what the results will be, resulting in tight, efficient, easy-to-
maintain code.

Extend this idea one more step to the user experience.  In any 
project, it costs very little to change a design on paper - but wait 
until you have developed the software, and those costs start to rise 
exponentially the further that the project progresses.  Discovering 
flawed requirements or interaction design in paper prototyping only 
costs a couple of hours work to re-visit and test again.  Discovering 
the same flaws on release will cost the company on many fronts, the 
least of which is re-development of the software for the next 
iteration/release.  There are a number of other factors to consider, 
such as brand identity and trust.   

Take the dot-bombs - seemingly great ideas on paper - people threw 
money at them without testing the concept - without the input of human 
factors specialists.  The 'design it and they will come' attitude made 
a quick turn for the worst as the market asked "Does anyone need or 
use this?"

Forrester tabulated some sample metrics from B2B and B2C web sites 
(some of these of course would be applicable, or similar to 
application design) in their June 2001 report, ‘Get ROI from Design’.  
Unfortunately, many of these can only be measured by developing a 
number of sites/applications:

“Metrics For Calculating ROI From Design
Sales - B2C
• Increased online sales
• Leads passed to other channels
• Percent of offline sales influenced by online research
Sales - B2B
• Increased online sales
• Leads passed to other channels
• Percent of offline sales influenced by online research

Support - B2C
• Reduced number of incoming support calls and emails
Support - B2B
• Reduced number of incoming support calls and emails
• Cuts in training time and costs

Customer satisfaction – B2C
• Better overall satisfaction, leading to increased loyalty
• Higher likelihood of recommending site to others
Customer satisfaction – B2B
• Better overall customer satisfaction, leading to increased loyalty
• More frequent use of online offering

Partner satisfaction – B2C
• Better overall satisfaction scores from partners
Partner satisfaction – B2B
• Faster interaction and data sharing within eBusiness networks
• More sales or traffic passed to retail or content partners

User efficiency and productivity – B2C
• Clients are more effective, drives more users of online tools and 
User efficiency and productivity – B2B
• Users realize productivity gains, making it easier to show site‘s 
• Customers can accomplish goals more quickly, leave more satisfied”

The rest of the report obviously fleshes out the details.

Another very good source is Rashmi Sinha's ROI of Usability: A 
Collection of Links (

I hope this helps you get started.


Ash Donaldson.
User Experience Designer

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