Fortune 500 User Experience ROI

14 Apr 2010 - 10:44pm
4 years ago
8 replies
2450 reads
qbi11y
2010

I currently work for a Fortune 500 company as a User Experience Designer/Manager. I was brought in to help enhance the user experience of certain applications both web and desktop. My problem is not many people see the value of user experience. As with most public companies they only care about the bottom line. UX is looked as an expense and not an investment. I wanted to ask if anyone here had compelling data about what Fortune 500 companies are spending on UX and the return on investment they are seeing. I am hoping that if I can show the financial benefits of investing money into a better experience, my job will become a lot easier. Any links or input would be greatly appreciated! Also it would be nice if anyone had pointers for convincing technically minded bean counters the importance of a well thought out user experience.

As a side note, they always mention iPhone like experience. I guess they think the iPhone experience was an idea on a powerpoint that came to fruition in 3 weeks without a financial investment.

Thanks In Advance!
J

Comments

15 Apr 2010 - 12:17am
keithwford
2010

Sounds like a familiar scenario. I am curious about some statements though, you claim you were hired to enhance the user experience but they are not interested in investing in it, wasn't hiring you an investment? My advice would be start small and pick something you can do around a specific metric with few resources and measure the results. Having some solid numbers to show you can deliver on your projections will give the executives more confidence. Check out the interview with Don Norman for some great advice from a veteran (first audio link on the page): http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/user-experience-week

Hope this is helpful, good luck!

 

15 Apr 2010 - 12:48am
ofilippelli
2010

It's a lonely road buddy...Smile

I've been evangelizing our company for two years, and there are too many conflicting forces and constraints for executives to understand what you understand,  they are managing the business. in my case it's a very piecemeal effort, I keep the big picture of the future in mind, while introducing small improvements to the product or solution.  These books may help (User Experience, Don't Make Me Think, Web Design for ROI, Eyetracking Web Usability), keep up with latest trends in UX Design, then use that wealth of knowledge to educate at every opportunity you get. Go to the Adidas.com see what those guys are doing as far as UX design.  Is not so much about ROI, it is difficult to have a meaningful measures, we can only measure traffic and such, but tracking return on investment its a bit harder.  But it is definitely about retention and helping your users experience something better in your app than the competition, or they will migrate to a better experience.  Keep in mind the experience also includes architecture, content relevance, social media, creating a meaningful connection with the consumer its what is all about. Good luck!

Omar

15 Apr 2010 - 12:54am
UsabilityArts
2010

J,

This post is interesting and it makes me want to rant. Perhaps you need to better evanglize UX within your organization. You were brought in by 'someone' to help enhance the UX of something which, by default, [UX] has a measurable value that you are striving to improve. You must identify this first. THen you need to find an ally or sponsoer who can help institutionalize along with you. I'd warn against making a blanket case for investment until you can at least identify the underlying problems that will be remedied by your work and then attempt to quantify the benefits that they will ultimately provide (increased sales, increased efficiency, less man-hours etc.).  Theres more to it though and to be frank, it really doesnt matter what other company's spend on UX unless you both have identical products with identical problems with identical users yadda yadda. The budget is probably computed based on the expectation that the investment will provide more savings/income over a period of time than what the investment cost up front (thats our mantra). I talk about this all the time with F500 companies who are entering this realm for the first time. UX is more than making it look good so that the boss is happy. Perhaps understanding that there are many many parts that make up "UX"- see http://www.flickr.com/photos/formforce/3663684287/sizes/o/ . It alarms me how many practitioners are unable to comprehend and articulate the building blocks of the digital experience - including WHY we exist as practitioners in the first place. 

You can find lot of info you seek by googling ROI of UX. I realize that you called for help and I ranted instead. Sorry for that J. Its been buggin me. Good luck - msg me if you want to chat more about it.


SpectrumUX.gif

15 Apr 2010 - 12:56am
samdavis
2010

Agreed, starting small and building confidence is key - Low hanging fruit..

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/roi.html

http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/pioneering-a-user

Sounds like you may be up against a change management issue and could use some internal wins and case studies to help educate the organization on the value. Good Luck.

 

15 Apr 2010 - 1:12am
Graham A. Brown
2009

Hi J you're right it is bottom line thinking that we are faced with. Sometime the cost of not doing the right thing, isn't an issue until the lawyers need to get involved when the User Experience is very negative. I would start by enlisting the help of the marketing department and compare sales of your products with competitors. What does the marketing research show? I also believe we are faced with the perception that anything that makes somethings easier to use are not as good as if the user has difficulty in using it. This perception is ingrained in these individuals and will take even more time in changing this perception. I once worked with a CEO who after addressing the marketing department said if our research did not match his "gut reaction" he would not accept the recommendations. You may find yourself in a no win situation. Have you asked the bean counters how they define a user experience for themselves. What would be a good experience? What would a bad experience be? Identify your allies. If you sense an opening maybe creating some brown bag lunches that address the User Experience for a general audience. And keep out all jargon. ttfn graham Vancouver, BC

On 14/04/10 9:21 PM, qbi11y wrote: > I currently work for a Fortune 500 company as a User Experience > Designer/Manager. I was brought in to help enhance the user experience > of certain applications both web and desktop. My problem is not many > people see the value of user experience. As with most public companies > they only care about the bottom line. UX is looked as an expense and not > an investment. I wanted to ask if anyone here had compelling data about > what Fortune 500 companies are spending on UX and the return on > investment they are seeing. I am hoping that if I can show the financial > benefits of investing money into a better experience, my job will > become a lot easier. Any links or input would be greatly appreciated! > Also it would be nice if anyone had pointers for convincing technically > minded bean counters the importance of a well thought out user > experience. > > As a side note, they always mention iPhone like experience. I guess > they think the iPhone experience was an idea on a powerpoint that came > to fruition in 3 weeks without a financial investment. > > Thanks In > Advance! > J > >

15 Apr 2010 - 8:00am
scott dauner
2007

J - I've implemented UCD/UX into organizations successfully by first applying basic methods on small projects (heuristic eval, usability test early, cognitive walkthrough, etc), and then selling its success like crazy. Then I find a large project and sell its success like crazy. If you can find a large project first, even better.

As UX practitioners, we have to make the effort to sell project successes to the people that make decisions in an organization.  That obviously includes top management (absolutely essential), but also the developers, project managers, business and system analysts.  Their buy-in generally gets them talking with others and legitimacy grows. 

Another point.  Just as you would design a UI differently for different audiences, you have to be prepared to present your successes differently too.  Take usability testing for example. I can get buy-in from executives by presenting a short video with snippets of a usability test (usually 2 1/2 to 5 minutes long).  Watching customers attempting something and failing on one of their UIs generally has a huge impact on their opinion of UX value.  However, with a BA, PM or developer, I try to have them watch one or more tests live from an observation room.   It usually causes animated discussions about what should be improved in a UI (at which point you find you're getting buy-in.  Neat, huh?).

There's obviously a lot more, but in general this strategy has worked well for me for the past 10 years.  Good luck!

On Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 3:56 AM, Graham A. Brown <gabro2008@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi J
you're right it is bottom line thinking that we are faced with. Sometime
the cost of not doing the right thing, isn't an issue until the lawyers
need to get involved when the User Experience is very negative. I would
start by enlisting the help of the marketing department and compare
sales of your products with competitors. What does the marketing
research show? I also believe we are faced with the perception that
anything that makes somethings easier to use are not as good as if the
user has difficulty in using it. This perception is ingrained in these
individuals and will take even more time in changing this perception. I
once worked with a CEO who after addressing the marketing department
said if our research did not match his "gut reaction" he would not
accept the recommendations. You may find yourself in a no win situation.
Have you asked the bean counters how they define a user experience for
themselves. What would be a good experience? What would a bad experience
be? Identify your allies. If you sense an opening maybe creating some
brown bag lunches that address the User Experience for a general
audience. And keep out all jargon.
ttfn
graham
Vancouver, BC

On 14/04/10 9:21 PM, qbi11y wrote:
> I currently work for a Fortune 500 company as a User Experience
> Designer/Manager. I was brought in to help enhance the user experience
> of certain applications both web and desktop. My problem is not many
> people see the value of user experience. As with most public companies
> they only care about the bottom line. UX is looked as an expense and not
> an investment. I wanted to ask if anyone here had compelling data about
> what Fortune 500 companies are spending on UX and the return on
> investment they are seeing. I am hoping that if I can show the financial
> benefits of investing money into a better experience, my job will
> become a lot easier. Any links or input would be greatly appreciated!
> Also it would be nice if anyone had pointers for convincing technically
> minded bean counters the importance of a well thought out user
> experience.
>
> As a side note, they always mention iPhone like experience. I guess
> they think the iPhone experience was an idea on a powerpoint that came
> to fruition in 3 weeks without a financial investment.
>
> Thanks In
> Advance!
> J
>
>

(((Please
15 Apr 2010 - 9:00am
Lnajera
2010

At the this years MIX 2010 event Microsoft's Principal Researcher Bill Buxton revealed that UI/UX design accounted for 20% of their Microsoft's product development budget. That includes all of their major projects including Windows 7, Windows 7 Mobile etc. A 20% investment of the overall total product development budget is unprecedented for any company let alone Microsoft, but this also shows how serious and committed Microsoft is about UI/UX design (even if it hasn't always been the case). Mostly, this move comes as a result of negative publicity Microsoft has received for past product releases which had a great deal of shortcomings with respect to UI/UX design, that coupled with the added pressure from the likes of Apple (who have always been strong in UI/UX design) and you can see why they need to invest 20% of their product development . UI/UX design is going to be an integral part of any product development effort for fortune 500 companies and the Microsoft and Apple are prime example of why this is the case.

In the auto industry, you can see that investment in human factor and Industrial design has also increased. Human Factor and Industrial design are the equivalent of our UI/UX design and many lessons can be learned from the auto industry. For many decades the U.S. auto industry fell by the way side in terms of design and engineering to its foreign counter parts. This led to loss of market share for companies like GM, Ford, Chrysler etc. However, recently the U.S. auto industry has re-comminted itself to improve quality and design by focusing more on human factors engineering and industrial design. The results have been evident with recent news accounts of the auto industry making a resurgence and actually showing gains in market share and profitability. However, these gains could not have been realized without the heavy investment into these key areas.

On Apr 15, 2010, at 12:09 AM, qbi11y wrote:

> I currently work for a Fortune 500 company as a User Experience > Designer/Manager. I was brought in to help enhance the user experience > of certain applications both web and desktop. My problem is not many > people see the value of user experience. As with most public companies > they only care about the bottom line. UX is looked as an expense and not > an investment. I wanted to ask if anyone here had compelling data about > what Fortune 500 companies are spending on UX and the return on > investment they are seeing. I am hoping that if I can show the financial > benefits of investing money into a better experience, my job will > become a lot easier. Any links or input would be greatly appreciated! > Also it would be nice if anyone had pointers for convincing technically > minded bean counters the importance of a well thought out user > experience. > > As a side note, they always mention iPhone like experience. I guess > they think the iPhone experience was an idea on a powerpoint that came > to fruition in 3 weeks without a financial investment. > > Thanks In > Advance! > J > >

15 Apr 2010 - 10:40pm
Michael Micheletti
2006

I've been there. Here's what worked for me:
- Find something useful that helps somebody on the development team, and do it. If they like it, they'll let you do it again, even ask you to. Some of the things people found useful were:
-- Build a web front end prototype to test your ideas, and then hand it off to the grateful Java developer who would have really sweated over it.
-- Do quickie hallway tests of one tiny thing in a big app using paper prototypes, and put the one that works into the app or spec.
-- Put the principle management stakeholder at the keyboard during an abbreviated heuristic jog-through of the system using the Hollywood prototype you built because the Java devs asked you to because it really helped them out last time. Having the boss at the wheel is a really effective way to find all sorts of complex things in the app that can be done away with. Because he says so, all his data-obsessed staff will begrudgingly go along with it.
-- Resuscitate a failed launch or application or widget or whatever by helping them getting rid of stuff they don't need but think they have to ask for in their awful web forms.
-- Befriend the business analysts and divvy up the spec-writing chores. They do the DB schemas and business rules, you do the forms. Fix them while you're at it - they'll be awful. They're always awful. Collaborate and help your partner.

And here are some things that didn't work for me:
- Trying to interest people in discussions about the value of design.
- Trying to find or invent data that would interest people in discussions about the value of design.
- Trying to interest people in discussions about design stuff that I found interesting.
- Whining about not getting to:
--- Conduct formal usability studies
--- Exhaustively research and create personas
--- Conduct extensive on-site research
--- Take trips to faraway design conferences
--- Wear comfortable clothes that don't meet the rigid corporate dress code
--- Pick new corporate colors 'cause theirs were hit hard with the ugly stick. (That doesn't mean I stopped trying though).

I guess my short answer is that you should try to make yourself supremely useful doing things that you like, because if you're good at them all of a sudden you'll have business coming out the woodwork.

Michael Micheletti

Alas I couldn't wear my customary aloha shirts, so I ended up buying aloha neckties.

On Wed, Apr 14, 2010 at 9:21 PM, qbi11y <qbi11y@gmail.com> wrote:

I currently work for a Fortune 500 company as a User Experience
Designer/Manager. I was brought in to help enhance the user experience
of certain applications both web and desktop. My problem is not many
people see the value of user experience. As with most public companies
they only care about the bottom line. UX is looked as an expense and not
an investment. I wanted to ask if anyone here had compelling data about
what Fortune 500 companies are spending on UX and the return on
investment they are seeing. I am hoping that if I can show the financial
benefits of investing money into a better experience, my job will
become a lot easier. Any links or input would be greatly appreciated!
Also it would be nice if anyone had pointers for convincing technically
minded bean counters the importance of a well thought out user
experience.

As a side note, they always mention iPhone like experience. I guess
they think the iPhone experience was an idea on a powerpoint that came
to fruition in 3 weeks without a financial investment.

Thanks In
Advance!
J

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