Well, it was inevitable that we’d have to touch on usability ROI, and what justifies what with this. I expected this to be a complicated topic to broach, and you probably expected that too. But, in all seriousness, this isn’t nearly as complicated as all that.
The things that incur costs in usability directly correlate to real metrics that fluctuate only in that the mild ebb and flow of an economic climate is still there. So, usability ROI is really easy to design, and to look at for the best handling thereof.
That said, I want to spend some time first talking about why you need to be forgiving in defining and weighing your ROI for this topic. Being too stingy or strict with this will result in the UX being less than positive and polished.
You see, you need to be willing to accept a little bit of a gluttonous consumption of time and resources for testing and refinement of usability, because only a truly heavily tested and refined design should be worthy of being made available to customers.
So, as we go on to define the things which affect your ROI and forces that act against it, we need to remember to be willing to tolerate bigger bites during usability refinement, design and testing, because this is critical to the design working so well.
The first thing to factor with your ROI in this is time being consumed and staff working on it for that duration. You’ll have developers writing and testing code, designers planning, prototyping and implementing interfaces, tests and tweaks and more tests. It’ll eat a lot of time and man hours to create a properly polished, and truly good design.
The next thing which can affect this is the set of resources eating by tests, such as compensation for all people participating, and facilities and accommodations for them, as well as additional staff to work the tests, design the forms, and calculate the results.
But, the biggest cost during development and UX refinement is the passage of time in the financial world while you incur further financial expenses for presence, without yielding any product to generate revenue. This is a flowing rate and correlation of the other factors plus this lack of revenue which creates your sum cost or investment.
You must be willing to be very forgiving with this summary cost, but at the same time, being an utter fool is a mistake as well, because if you take a years to design something, and it’s not an elite, expensive commodity upon release, you’re going to be in the red forever and a day, and you’ll never catch up. Changes are, you’ll choke on yourself before you get far enough to even break even.
So, there’s a balance right between ideal and “if only”, where you’re allowing more than you wish it would take, but you’re also keeping it reigned in. I can’t really advise you on specifics there, because it depends on to many wildly variable things unique to your scenario which I could never begin to predict.
Usability ROI is important, but the dynamics and causality aren’t that complex. The trick is all in the balance.