- Is there a business case for usability?
- Why should users be involved in design?
- When should users be involved in design?
- What are the cost benefits?
- How much should I be investing in usability?
- Why do I need to measure usability?
- Do we need a usability strategy in our organisation?
- Why bother enhancing the user's experience?
- Isn’t it just a cost?
- What’s the relation between usability and branding?
The objective is to contribute to organizations and to the bottom line by producing superior products and services that delight users. A positive user experience is critical to the success of your business. Improving the usability of offerings is a sound business strategy, and by following good engineering practices, you can do this, delighting your users, differentiating yourselves from your competition, and enhancing your success.
The only way to achieve delighted users is to create what they want and in a form that they find intuitive. It's all about helping your users accomplish their tasks with minimum effort and maximum satisfaction. To do this, they have to be involved with the design of the product or system and thus an integral partner in the development process. Studies continue to confirm that ease-of-use and a resulting positive user experience are among the most sought after attributes of a successful product.
Every aspect of your users' interactions with your organization needs to be optimized for success. The actual use of your product or service is only one important factor contributing to your user's overall impression of you. This impression is formed by everything that your users see and touch - by every contact with your product or company, through any channel, and for the entire life cycle of your product.
User centred design can reduce development time and costs and ensure the early detection of problems, avoiding expensive rework. Problems detected later in the development cycle, or after product introduction can cost one or two orders of magnitude more to fix, than if the same problems were detected early. User centred design can also help you reduce support costs, significantly reduce user error, and reduce the time and cost of user adoption, including training.
A solution that satisfies your users' objectives and delivers a great user experience can help you increase your returns. Such solutions can dramatically improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, giving you increased revenue and competitive advantage. A good user experience can enhance your brand while a frustrating one can cause brand damage. Understanding why users do certain things and how they wish to do them makes it possible to create designs that reduce complexity and increase task efficiency, thereby making your users both happier and more productive.
Making it easier for your users to do business with you makes it easier for you to achieve your business objectives. There are many ways that you might increase revenue or reduce cost, and usually a combination of them results in an attractive return. Naturally, accomplishing this requires investment - perhaps up to 10% of the project budget, but studies show that that for every dollar a company invests in developing a usable product, the company receives $10-$100 in benefits, and wins customer satisfaction and loyalty too.
Business objectives, including user satisfaction objectives, must drive the development of your products. If you do not regularly measure customer and user satisfaction, then you cannot be sure that you are delivering the user experience that will create success. Since users' perceptions, expectations, desires, and alternatives are constantly evolving, you must continue to measure satisfaction over the life of your product.
A usability strategy must be an integral part of your offering, driven by your business goals and current status. A commitment to simplicity and delivering positive user experiences is the best way to ensure success. As Forrester states, "Improving user experience can increase both revenue and customer satisfaction while lowering costs." 5
People expect things to simply work - no prior reading and certainly no training. Either they can gain immediate value, or they will move on. So it's win or lose, based on the initial user experience, and for many organizations, this user experience is directly mapped to business success. Users have increasing choice, and can easily evaluate alternatives to satisfy their expectations. They can use the Web to get information, make comparisons and obtain the best offering. At every stage they are influenced by their experience and with a click of the mouse, cast judgment.
Customers and users want a well-designed interaction that is both satisfying and engaging. Just imagine a department store where 62% of the customers get lost, or a coffee shop that makes you queue three times to buy a drink. Sounds ridiculous, but many Web sites are like this. Easy solutions can give you increased competitive advantage. CIO Insight surveyed 400 top IT executives in December 2001 and reported that over 80% of the respondents stated that customer satisfaction is their top objective in the deployment of an e-business solution.
The design of your product or service impacts your brand. A good experience can enhance your brand image while a frustrating experience can cause brand damage. Easy-to-use solutions result from designing the solution with frequent and extensive user involvement. They become supporters, even references, when the product is made available. Studies show that there is a very strong correlation between customer satisfaction and loyalty. Users with low satisfaction will be lost. Those with medium satisfaction are always open to a better proposition. Only those customers who are highly satisfied will remain faithful to your business.
©UsabilityNet 2006. Reproduction permitted provided the source is acknowledged.