Sunday, April 23, 2006

Cost justification

The product development cycle as a whole must be profitable. This means that eventually usability research and implementation must pay off in increased sales, increased productivity, decreased support, and so on.

The user's experience
If users feel stupid, incompetent, or frustrated when using an application, they most likely will not touch it again unless they have to. With mobile games, the user never has to play — this means that a positive user experience is a necessity. The whole point of a game is to provide a positive user experience.

Companies that invest in ease-of-use enjoy increased sales and a positive image. Good usability as a result of user testing, usability research, and implementation of these guidelines will yield at least some of the following results:
  • Shorter learning curve for games
  • Increased likelihood that the player will buy the game
  • Developers can focus on the game instead of user interface details
  • A harmonized user interface of Series 40 and Series 60 games
  • Decreased number of changes in the final stages where they are the most expensive to implement
  • Increased sales through reliable company reputation
  • Shorter development cycle for games and reduced number of necessary iterations
These benefits have been established through research, some of it via Web sites rather than applications. Investing in usability can be summed up as follows:
  • Return on investment in usability for a typical project is between 200% and 800%.
  • Average percentage of development budget required for usability is just 2.2%.
  • Key cost metrics (such as support calls, use of help features) fall by at least 10%.
  • Conversion ratios (sales) increase by an average of 16%.

Case studies are too numerous to be listed, but a few examples make the point:

  • For developers and manufacturers, the advantages of creating usable products far outweigh the costs. The rule of thumb: every dollar invested in ease of use returns $10 to $100.
  • Systems designed with usability engineering have typically reduced the time needed for training by around 25%. Big Five User-centered design typically cuts errors in user-system interaction from 5% to 1%.
  • Revenues for one Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) product that was developed using user-centered design techniques increased 80% for the new version of the software, and usability was cited by customers as the second most significant improvement.