Few things are as important in the tech world as UX design or the user experience.
User experience designers and engineers make sure that your software or product has a user-friendly surface and is easy to navigate. One thing that adversely affects most businesses is the confusion customers feel from the outset.
If a consumer, or potential customer, is interacting with your products and cannot figure out how it operates or what it necessarily does then that product has failed before it even began. This is an important distinction that many businesses skip over not thinking about how integral it is to a products' success. As opposed to a graphic designer, whose major job is to make the product or site as beautiful as possible, the UX designer keeps the consumer in mind and makes the product as user-friendly as possible. All techies, and consumers, know the importance of ease-of-use and appreciate when a product has a simple but effective interface.
The design for UX is just as important, if not more important, than the product itself. If there is a great product with a bad UX then the company usually suffers tremendous financial woes. That is why in the last 10 years, billions of dollars have been spent on UX. What is more astounding however, is that over a trillion dollars will be spent this year in making software or IT related services and 15% of those will fail before they can deploy due to UX issues.
For another stark comparison, the App Store on Apple has millions of apps but even the best application with a poor UX cannot succeed on the marketplace. Good UX is necessary. As if you needed any more convincing the ROI is especially convincing to those who might be skeptical about the need for a definite user experience. This, as a matter of fact, is where the return on investment is actually seen tangibly and impacts a business one thousand times over.
What is important to understand is that the UX's main goal is to provide a general feeling of happiness and contentedness when using a product or service. To that end, we must frame ROI in those conditions, as ethereal as they may seem, they oftentimes bring real profit and viability. When we speak about the return we see we are often times talking about things like the conversion rate and drop off rate. This is where things get really interesting.
A website with a great user interface and beautiful graphic design does not retain potential customers quite like UX design. UX is not concerned with making the site beautiful but making it easy to use and efficient enough that the consumer walks away happy remembering your site for as long as possible. When designing a product it is much the same.
You want a customer to use your product and remember using your product with contentedness and happiness. in the digital age, more than ever, the feeling of a product has more implication than its actual uses. Luckily, that is exactly what UX is designed with in mind. It is difficult for a company to truly connect to a human being.
Most times a business will try to make their website or product as beautiful as possible with little return. A user interface designer cannot go through and provide an experience even though they lay out the buttons and site map. What we see then most often, is that a site or product with good UX has a high conversion rate. This means, simply, that people who visit the site or use the software are much more likely to sign up with your company than those who do not have a good UX design. This is the crux of maintaining any business in the internet era. There is nothing more important to a business online then subscribers who follow and stay interested in your business, all thanks to the experience they had on your website or using your product.
The other very important thing to determine in the design is the drop-off rate. This is a number that is concerned with how many people have used your product or service and left. The drop-off rates for most products is rather high if the UX design is not key and at full focus. As an owner you are looking for users that are both unique and frequent visitors. When we talk about ROI in this context we mean those who will subscribe and visit your site or product often with gleams of happiness.
There is nothing more impactful to a business that a large following and subscriber base. Just look at Airbnb or Uber and their ease of use. There is no better judge of what UX can really do to a business then those companies amongst many others. If you have a site or product then I would recommend you take all that you have and put it into UX design as it has shown time and time again to be the most impactful part of any product or service.
Josh Althauser is an entrepreneur with a background in design and M&A. He's also a developer, open source advocate, and designer. You may connect with him on Twitter.