Early involvement of usability engineering plays a vital role in increasing the product ROI right from development to support. In most of the product development initial stages, usability engineering is considered as an additional expense and gets skipped in the product development lifecycle. Since the key product design decisions are made in the first 10% of the initial stages, which determines 90% of product cost and performance of the project in later stages. So early involvement of usability engineering reduces the changes in later stages of the product development, which in turn increases the timely delivery of product and ensures product is within budget.

How usability increases your ROI?

Reduced Development Cost and Time

In most of the usability-aware organizations, the basic cost-benefit rule of thumb for usability is $1:$10-$100, which means once the product is in development phase, correcting a problem would cost 10 times as much as fixing the same in design phase, but the problem happens after releasing the product it cost 100 times as much to fixing the same in design phase. So early involvement of usability reduces the changes made in later stages of lifecycle.

Increased Productivity

Usability helps in understanding the users and their environment for which the product is build and designed according to their needs to increase productivity. Usability helps to understand the flow of product and improve the efficiency of the product by reducing the time taken and number of clicks (or touch) involved to perform each task. Even a small change in unwanted flow or click would increase a lot in productivity. Landauer (1995) found interesting fact that “Productivity within the service sector would rise 4% – 9% annually, if every software program were designed for usability”.

Increased Sales and Revenue

In this competitive world choosing the right product in market also depends on how usable and efficient the product is build and this can be achieved by involving usability during the product lifecycle. In one of the usability engineering case study performed by Wixon & Jones, the software product has increased the revenue by more than 80% compared to first release of the product without usability. Which result in 60% more revenue than expected and many customers cited usability as the key factor in buying the new system.

Reduced Training Cost and Time

Usability helps in designing simple and efficient interfaces, I reiterate the word simple because complex design requires some guidance to understand the product, but usability involves cognitive psychology during interface design by understanding the users mental model (how they think, process, remember and respond to a situation) for example like using more global and default positioning of elements in interfaces reduces the mental model complexity, this in-turn reduces training time and cost when a user uses the product for the first time. Statistics prove that AT&T saved $2.5 million in training expenses as a result of usability improvements and IBM reduced training time from one week to one hour for an internal system by redesigning the front-end using usability principles.

Reduced Support Cost

The major reason for contacting support arises when we have difficulty while using the product. By conducting Usability Test before the product release we could find major problems or difficulties user face while using the product and make changes to rectify the issues in a controlled environment. This reduces the difficulty while using the product after release in real time, which in-turn reduces the support cost. Case study proves that reputed printer manufacturer has released a printer driver that many users find it difficult to install; over 50000 users called support team for help which cost company nearly $500000 a month. Company sent apology letters to users at a cost of $3, so company has spent total of $900000 on that issue. So Investing a small amount in usability testing would have identified this problem and rectify before product release and save huge expenses.

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