Could you be doing more?

Usability testing and user experience optimization affects everything from design time, development costs, online conversions, engagement, brand perception, and even internal resource usage such as call center volume. This is why doing any usability testing on your websites and mobile apps is better than doing none, but many organizations are doing less than they would like.

Often times this is because lean UX teams on the front lines lack the bandwidth to carry out more frequent usability testing and/or UX research teams don’t have the backing of higher ups for increasing online research. In this article, we’ll take a look at what the experts have to say in regards to the cost of investing in usability testing, as well as share some great ideas to keep even the leanest teams engaged with usability testing.

The Dollars and Sense

There are a plethora of reasons why companies should consider investing time and resources to user and customer experience. Tom Glib, software development pioneer and guest lecturer around the world, says every dollar invested in UX yields a return between $2 and $100 in his book Principles of Software Engineering Management.

Roger S. Pressmann, usability guru and author of Software Engineering: A Practitioners Approach, showed how the later on in development usability issues are found the more expensive it is to fix them: “For ever dollar invested in the design phase, you would have to pay $10 in the development phase and $100 after the product launch.”

From a revenue standpoint, Dr. Susan Weinschenk makes the case for investing in UX testing with this example: If 100 visitors daily place products worth $10 in the shopping cart, but due to lack of payment options 30% abandon the purchase, the site loses 30 sales a day and thus $300 daily. Applied to one year, the loss would be $109,500. Whether or not the numbers in this example match with your company (could be better, could be much worse) the point is that preventable loss is happening when companies don’t test with users.

Customer Experience Leaders Outperform the Market

Just in case the aforementioned wasn’t convincing enough, Watermark Consulting ran an eight year study on the stock performances of companies that are leaders when it comes to investing in customer experience. The results speak for themselves:

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Companies that invest in user and customer experience don’t simply experience short-term rewards. This data set spans pre-recession peaks in 2007 all the way to post-recession recovery that’s ongoing today and shows that it’s always a right time to invest in your users and customers.

Ideas for UX Teams to Stay Engaged

The good news is that it’s possible to get on-going data & feedback from users with very little effort. It’s important to remember if you have limited budget or bandwidth that you should focus your testing on your top business priorities. That being said, if you’re strapped for bandwidth and aren’t sure where to increase usability testing, here are a few easy test ideas that can keep even the leanest of UX teams engaged with usability testing.

Prototype Testing

Prototype testing is a great time to test with users for two reasons:

  1. It’s the best time to find usability issues since changes can be implemented quickly and cost-effectively.
  2. You don’t have to have completed products or sites to put in front of users.

As you are developing wireframes, scanned sketches, and lo-fi prototypes, you can get rapid feedback from users. Changes can be quickly implemented and prototypes re-tested with users to ensure that your User Centered Design is effective.

Recurring Benchmark Studies

With advanced testing software you can build a template to use for on-going benchmarking studies on your own site or against your competitors. Choose the KPIs that are integral to the success of your website or app and/or general usability metrics you want to measure over time, create your study, and copy the study as often as needed. With recurring benchmark studies you can modify them as much or as little as you want, depending on your bandwidth.

VoC Studies

Voice of the Customer (VoC) studies are questionnaires that allow you to intercept users and collect user feedback once visitors have experienced your site or product. The benefit of a Voice of the Customer study is that it’s an “always on” feature, meaning once you make it live it is constantly delivering insights from actual users on your digital properties.

Conclusion

Companies are walking a tightrope right now, where on the one hand Executives understand that user and customer experience is important but on the other hand they might not be supporting the expansion of these efforts within their organization due to fiscal roadblocks. An important thing to remember is that there is no magic potion for better UX – focus on whatever is most important to your company. The good news is that there are options for even the most time strapped of lean UX teams to remain constantly engaged with users with minimal effort.