Return on investment in user experience (UX)

Usability and User Experience (UX) are familiar terms for those who have developed a digital project. While the user-centered design is part of the DNA of many of us, sometimes we have to" convince "our superiors or colleagues when it comes to analyzing the convenience of investing in user experience. Therefore, it never hurts to review some concepts and figures to understand why it is so profitable.

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We will also talk about the importance of design in the construction of a company, a topic that has been debated in recent years in business circles, while organizations like Google have already successfully demonstrated that it is the essence of innovation and the development of new products and services.

Brief conceptual review

What do we mean by usability? In simple terms, it is about making the design of a service, a website or an object as easy and comfortable as possible to use by users with a medium level of knowledge.

For Jakob Nielsen, considered the guru of usability, it is a "quality attribute" that measures the ease of web interfaces and is based on three fundamental pillars: ease of learning and use and flexibility. This translates into the naturalness and degree of intuition offered by the service so that the user can deduce the interaction with the system; in the effectiveness and efficiency in its use; and the possibilities of information exchange [1].

Specifically, if a website is well designed, the user who interacts with it will be able to successfully achieve their goal: find information, sign up to receive a benefit or buy a product online. If this objective is met, those who invested in that website will also be very satisfied, since the conversion rate will be as expected.

When we talk about user experience (UX), although there are attempts to define or conceptual frameworks to explain what UX is, there is still a lack of consensus regarding the definition both in academia as in the industry. The truth is that interfaces and digital services became not only useful and usable, but they must be interesting and cause "something else" to the end user. Hassenzahl and Tractinsky [2] refer to these emotional, affective and experiential attributes that complement the instrumental aspects, closely related to a specific need.

In this sense, UX is a consequence of something and, as some authors mention, designers cannot design THE experience ([3], [4]) - since it is individual, unique and personal - but FOR a certain experience. When designing for an experience, it is essential to define objectives and the source of these objectives lies in studies with users, a theoretical base, standards, good practices and common sense [3].

And what does my business earn?

Returning to the initial questioning - how to sell the UX internally - the estimates of the profitability of investing in Usability and User Experience projects vary from a return of $ 2 to $ 100 for every $ 1 invested. This is how the study “The Business Value of User Experience” states it, stating that if users have a good experience this “translates into savings, while a bad user experience can have a serious impact on sales, satisfaction and costs ”[5].

In terms of metrics and business impact, this means:

  • Increase in sales or conversions, because the objective you are looking for is met and that the user also had in mind (for example, successfully completing a purchase or a subscription), after browsing without difficulties through all the necessary steps to the goal. In other words, a product or a service where the customer has a good user experience will sell better and, unlike products that are experienced long after the purchase, websites are experienced immediately. Today, ease of use and quality of design are selling strategies for leading companies like Google, Apple and Amazon.
  • Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, because if a website is meeting its goals, they decide to come back and you are much less likely to experience high churn or unsubscribe rates. According to an Avaya survey, more than 75% of consumers said they would likely continue to make purchases if their customer experience with a company is exceptional, while 82% would stop spending money where their experience has been poor [5].

Investing in usability and user experience also impacts traffic metrics and usage behavior on the web, such as some KPIs that are easily measured with tools such as Google Analytics:

  • Decrease the bounce rate, which means getting users to spend more time browsing the different pages and flows of your website. Another sign of the increase in satisfaction with the services you are offering.
  • Increased conversion rate in transactional flows related to objectives such as generation of leads or sales prospects, sales, completion of transactions and others.
  • Improvement of findability or the positioning of the brand in search engines such as Google. By applying SEO techniques to your website and each of its pages, you will gain positions in the results that are generated when someone performs a search associated with your business and your brand will gain awareness among users. With this, all the other benefits that we have named will be possible, because if your site is indexed in search engines, it will be easier for users who do not know you to arrive.

What the studies say

In "Designing for Success: Creating Business Value with Mobile User Experience (UX)", the authors start from the premise that optimized websites "will likely have a greater positive impact on the ROI of a company" [6].

This was measured using Google Analytics on a real e-commerce website, comparing consumer behavior one year before and one year after the website was optimized for mobile devices.

The results were as follows:

  • Unique views increased by about 40%
  • Bounce rate decreased by 50%
  • Sales of the tested product increased more than 30%
  • The amount of all products sold through the mobile-optimized site increased by 70%

Internet browsing through mobile devices grows every year around the world because they provide a fast and easy way to access the Internet. But this study argues that "while the design of websites for various screen sizes has been one of the main topics in web development circles, little work has been done to look at the mobile user experience from a business perspective" [6].

In short, making the customer experience easy and satisfactory with clear messages and intuitive flows, from the moment they start their search until they decide to make a purchase, can only bring positive results for your company. < / p>

Design in the success of a business

For professionals dedicated to designing digital services, the term "UX" may fall short since the boundary between one contact channel and another is becoming less evident every day. For this reason, we are seeing more and more the use of a framework focused on design in general and on the design of services in particular.

But why is design important? According to "The Future of Design in Start-Ups", among the businesses that report significant returns there is already a strong conviction that include design in the construction strategy of the company had a direct impact on its success, led to higher sales and contributed to its valuation [7].

The responses of more than 400 participants, among startups, agencies and independent companies from around the world, were analyzed. 87% of respondents stated that design was important or very important, and 85% of companies have founders or C-level executives who influence design decisions. And nearly a third had a designer as part of their founding team.

The most interesting thing about the article presenting the study is the mention of the concepts that the respondents themselves are applying in their businesses. Let's review some:

Design adds value to the consumer and the company: the efforts of these companies are equally invested in hiring designers and committing to design as part of their strategy. Thus, a large number of its founders are designers, "which bodes well for the current and next wave of delicious-to-use and user-centric products to help them win in the market" [7].

The key characteristics of a design-centric organization: all agreed on six, in this order of importance:

  1. Integrated design in multiple areas
  2. User-centric
  3. Dedicated design team
  4. Designers as part of the C-level or executive team
  5. A founder who is a designer
  6. Equal relationship of designers to engineers

The authors of the study emphasize that these companies believe that "the design should not only have a seat at the table, but must be integrated in a functional way, that is a key point and a specific action that teams they can execute as they build the product, and much more specific than just saying there must be 'Design Culture' ”[7].

The war for the demand for design talent will continue: Most companies reported that they will increase their design teams by 50%, at all stages of growth. On the other hand, product designers are so in demand that 70% of older companies are looking for them.

The authors of the study argue that the importance of design in the construction of a company is being talked about around the world and that leading companies such as Google are observed that have achieved success by embracing design. However, they caution that there is still very little data on why, when and how to integrate it into company operations.

We will be attentive to continue disseminating the advances in this trend.


[1] Usability 101: Definition and Fundamentals – What, Why, How (Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox). Available online at:

[2] Marc Hassenzahl & Noam Tractinsky (2006): User experience – a research agenda, Behaviour & Information Technology, 25:2, 91-97.

[3] Eija Kaasinen, Virpi Roto, Jaakko Hakulinen, Tomi Heimonen, Jussi P. P. Jokinen, Hannu Karvonen, Tuuli Keskinen, Hanna Koskinen, Yichen Lu, Pertti Saariluoma, Helena Tokkonen & Markku Turunen (2015): Defining user experience goals to guide the design of industrial systems, Behaviour & Information Technology, 34:10, 976-991.

[4] Virpi Roto, Heli Väätäjä, Effie Law, Rachel Powers (2016): Experience Design for Multiple Customer Touchpoints. NordiCHI ’16. Proceedings of the 9th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction. New York, NY, USA : ACM, 2016. 146.

[5] The Business Value of User Experience (Jim Ross, D3 Infragistics Services). Available online at:

[6] Designing for Success: Creating Business Value with Mobile User Experience (UX) (Soussan Djamasbi, Dan McAuliffe, Wilmann Gomez, Georgi Kardzhaliyski, Wan Liu, Frank Oglesby). Available online at:

[7] The Future of Design in Start-Ups Survey: 2016 Results (New Enterprise Associates).

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