If you are not familiar with it, UX research focuses on developing a better understanding of user behavior, needs, experiences and motivations. This understanding is developed through both qualitative and quantitative methods. While many businesses do not perform UX research, the value is undeniable. The reason why is obvious, if you create a better user experience for your customers they will reward you with their trust and business.
If you look at the numbers they tend to speak for themselves. According to IBM, "$20,700 spent on usability resulted in a $47,700 return on the first day the improvements we implemented and $68,000 spent on usability on another system resulted in $6,800,000 return in the first year." [Cost-Justifying Usability by Clare-Marie Karat, Ph.D. from the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center] The same report goes on to show that it is more economical to consider user needs at the beginning of the design process than it is to solve them later.
UX research helps give you clear insight about the end user and their pain points along the customer journey. Having this information helps you create solutions that meet user needs. The key here is the ability to replace assumptions with facts about your users and then being able to act upon that objective information.
How can UX research benefit your business?
UX research helps your business reduce wasted time and money. Companies that do not employ UX research in their design efforts create interfaces and user experiences based on assumptions about their customers that are quite often at least partially incorrect. Instead of objective data, they design based on personal opinions and in doing so they are not creating an interface that meets user needs. This reduces the revenue that your design is able to generate.
Failing to utilize UX research can lead to products that are not user friendly. Since the user is ignored in these cases, the form and function of the interface may not meet their needs, leading to abandonment. Additionally, these types of interfaces may be confusing to the user without a business even knowing it since they are neglecting to perform UX research.
While your web site or mobile app may have amazing products for sale or features, if it doesn't have a quality user experience that meets user needs, customers may never know they are even there. By designing with UX research as your guide, it helps you avoid the time and expense of doing rework to fix or replace an underperforming interface.
In fact, it is shown that for every dollar spent to solve a problem during the design phase, it would take $10 to solve the same problem during development and $100 or more to solve the problem after the product's release. [Software Engineering: A Practitioner's Approach by Robert Pressman] It is far less expensive to address issues during the design phase than to fix them later.
In the short term, it certainly is cheaper to start your project without taking the time to do UX research. However, this does not provide for a solid long term solution.
If you look at business web sites as an example, you will find that typically companies work to improve their conversion rates. Typically, about 25% of all web sites convert at less than 1%. If you look across all industries, the average landing page conversion rate is 2.35%. Meanwhile, the top 25% convert at 5.31% or higher and the top performers break 10%. [Search Engine Land] Considering these numbers, you probably can see that you have a huge opportunity to improve your revenue by improving your web site conversion rates.
If visitors to your web site encounter a lackluster user experience, it will negatively reflect on the conversion rate and reduce the overall revenue generated by your web site. However, improvements that position you to better capitalize on the visitors your web site does get can make a big difference quickly. A web site or mobile app design based on UX research will have a user experience that not only improves conversion rates but creates repeat business as well.
One of the most common complaints about poorly designed web sites is that it is hard to find products. UX research can help eliminate this issue and help your site visitors get to the products they are looking to buy. You will find that it is cheaper and more efficient to improve the conversion rate of your web site than it is to increase your traffic enough to create the same revenue.
When it comes to business, none of us operate in a vacuum. Everything we do as a business will be impacted by our competition. For those business people that want to succeed and see revenue grow, it is not an option to stand still while competitors are improving their business. The design process plays an important role in improving business competitiveness.
Utilizing UX research can help ensure that customers will be satisfied interacting with your business. User experience is at the center of the factors that can improve a business's competitiveness. It doesn't matter how innovative your product is, or how much you spend on marketing, if the user has a bad experience with your brand or product, they will look for other options next time.
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