I’m not proud of it, but there is a small part of me that crumples into a heap of self-loathing and despair whenever I’m asked a very specific question….
“What is the ROI of design?”
What do you mean?! Do you not want an intuitive, elegant tool that brings joy to the hearts of millions? Why, oh why, am I so misunderstood?
As a practitioner of user-centered design, I need to stop feeling that the world is questioning my life choices and realize that this question actually validates my existence. I should embrace this question. I should welcome this question with arms outstretched like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music spinning across the Austrian landscape. We all should.
When it comes time to redesign your website, it’s in everyone’s best interest to question the ROI of design and even better, to calculate your expected return and hold people accountable. There is a real, calculable ROI for design: if you’re not sure where to start, see if any of these make sense.
Translating Increase in Usage to Dollars
Can you tie an increase in usage to the bottom line? A well-designed website should not only help with conversion (more people through the funnel) but will also build user confidence that leads to repeat visits and additional activity. Can you correlate a reduction in bounce rate to an increase in leads? Do fewer abandoned applications lead to more sales? It’s not always easy to calculate these numbers, but it is almost always worth exploring.
Decrease Development Cost
Investing in usability and design forces you to think through the solution and bring business requirements to life. You’re going to need to make design decisions. Your options are to either make good decisions as part of the planning and design process, or make bad, knee jerk design decisions as part of the development process (who said a modal inside a modal was a bad idea?). Further, investing in design up front can limit the amount of rework. Would you rather have a designer rework a PSD file, or have your entire development team recode the front page because leadership doesn’t like the way it looks? Design generates a better looking product, but it is also an important component of the overall development process. Take your expected development costs and add 15%. Compare that number to your design investment and let’s talk.
Training and Support
Done properly, design and usability go hand-in-hand. Design should play a significant role in guiding a visitor to their destination and helping them to find the next step or content that they seek. If we’re talking about an internal application, clean design can reduce training (and re-training) costs. A well-designed product should work better.
So, the next time you see me, ask me about ROI and I promise not to cry. Actually, I welcome the conversation. Calculating the ROI of design is difficult (no doubt) but it can be done. So let’s talk. We’d be happy to walk you through a couple ROI success stories, take a look at your situation, and see what makes sense.