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Usability and ROI

What is ROI?

ROI (or return on investment) refers to the returned value in profit, savings, or productivity that can be attributed to a given investment. When the investment is lower than the resulting gains, a positive ROI is achieved. For example, if a company spends $10,000 on advertising efforts that result in increasing profits by $50,000, the ROI is $40,000.

The ROI of Usability

The returns generated from investments in website and software development are measured in both quantitative and qualitative of ways. Investments in usability can be put to the same tests. While usability improvements have often focused on qualitative metrics, they can be measured in quantitative terms as well. Improving the usability of a website can increase sales, reduce customer service calls, and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. For internally used software and websites, like intranets and timesheets systems, improving usability can increase productivity by reducing the time to complete a task, reducing the error rate, and increasing satisfaction. Most of these improvements can be quantified by measuring saved time, gained revenues, and increased productivity.

When usability is included into development and production processes, even greater returns are possible. It is always better to design something right to begin with rather than fixing it later. Building usability into your processes can reduce development costs, reduce development time, and ultimately improve the end product. Keeping end-users in mind during every step of development and production processes from requirements analysis, conceptual design, prototyping, and production ensures that products will not just be used once but again and again.

Measuring ROI

To obtain an ROI figure that is a direct result of usability testing, a variety of factors must be taken into account. It is important to gather data on pre- and post-design usability testing (in order to generate measurements that can then be compared). To maintain pure data, it is also important to have consistent variables in each pre- and post- testing session: test similar users for both pre- and post- testing, observe the same tasks, and use the same metrics.

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Last modified on 27 june 2004

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