The average software application has 40 usability-related design flaws. If UXE methods are applied from the beginning of the design process, the cost of UXE returns a benefit of over 700% in efficiency improvements. [65]. Field studies have demonstrated the time required to complete common tasks on intranets with low usability scores is about double what it takes to compete the same tasks on ones with a high usability scores [89]. For a large company, improving the usability of corporate enterprise software or intranet can result in huge cost savings by saving employee’s time. For enterprise software vendors, usability can be a key selling point. In fact, some customers have begun to run usability tests to help them choose between software offerings [112].

Here are some examples of how UXE methods have enhanced productivity and the resulting cost savings:

  • IBM saves $6.8 million by investing $20,700. A $20,700 investment in UXE resulted in design changes to IBM’s sign-in procedure that saved 9.6 minutes per task per employee. This yielded an internal savings of $41,700 on the first day, $6.8 million in the first year, resulting in a cost benefit ratio of $1:$100 [58].
  • State of Kansas reduces task time on Web portal by 70%. Usability testing revealed that users were confused by the organization of the site and took an average of 22 minutes to complete a task. By adjusting the site’s information architecture, task time was reduced to 9 minutes [89].
  • NCR Corporation improves data entry by 25% and decreases errors by 25% by redesigning data entry screens according to UXE heuristics [42].
  • Bay Networks saves $10 million per year. A $3 million investment in an intranet developed using UXE methods saved Bay Networks an estimated $10 million per year in employee search time, while resulting in a qualitative improvement in employee’s work [37].

Decreasing Cost of Development

Projects overruns occur in 63% of software development project, with the top four reasons usability related: (1) frequent change requests from users, (2) overlooked tasks, (3) users’ do not have a clear understanding of their own requirements, and (4) poor user-analyst communication [69]. However, the UXE methods can directly address these issues and has demonstrated a reduction in the product development cycle by 33%–50% [12].

Here are a few examples of decreasing development costs with UXE:

  • Israel Aircraft Industries saved $330,000 in development costs when producing its Mission Planning Centre software. The investment in UXE was only $22,000, providing a cost-benefit ratio of $1:$15 [8].
  • UK Inland Revenue saved $390,000 in development costs when producing internal software. The investment in UXE was $150,000, providing a cost-benefit ratio of $1:$2.5 [8].
  • Network equipment supplier saves 30% of development time after a usability tests demonstrated that the planned personalization features were not wanted. The personalization features were dropped and instead navigation was improved which reduced total project time and resulted in an early release [89].

Decreasing Cost of Maintenance

One software development management guide states, “The rule of thumb in many usability-aware organizations is that the cost-benefit ratio for usability is $1:$10-$100. Once a system is in development, correcting a problem costs 10 times as much as fixing the same problem in design. If the system has been released, it costs 100 times as much relative to fixing it in design” [44]. Another states “80% of software lifecycle costs occur during the maintenance phase. Most maintenance costs are associated with ‘unmet or unforeseen’ user requirements and other usability problems.” [105].

Here are a few examples of decreasing maintenance costs with UXE:

  • American Airlines reduced its software maintenance costs by 60-90% by appling UXE methods that allowed the identification and correction of usability problems early in the development cycle. [50]
  • Sewing machine manufacturer saves several million dollars in maintenance costs by redesigning state-of-art sewing machine after UXE analysis. This microprocessor-controlled machine was too complex for users to understand. They could not clear the jammed thread path and flooded the company with in-home service requests covered by their warranty, at a great cost to the manufacturer. The redesigned machine had much fewer service requests [77].

Decreasing Cost of Support

Providing call-center technical support for computer software is estimated to cost companies between $12 and $250 per call, depending on the organization [137]. Usability related questions compose a high proportion of these calls.

Here are a few examples of decreasing support costs with UXE:

  • ConocoPhillps reduced daily employee help desk calls from 300 to zero through an intranet redesign that simplified online application interfaces and streamlined data entry forms [113].
  • Schneider Automation saved $2 million in call center-support costs in 10 months by improving the user experience on its Web site [60].
  • Dell reduced call center calls by 50% when it added “My Order Status” button to its site. This feature was developed after an analysis of call-center logs [74].

Decreasing Costs of Training

Training is one component of the cost of deploying information technology. Software that is easy to learn how to use reduces the cost of purchasing or developing training as well as the cost of lost employee time. Here are a few examples:

  • AT&T saved $2.5 million in training expenses as a result of usability improvements [50].
  • IBM reduced training time from one week to one hour for an internal system by redesigning the front-end using UXE principles [50].
Contents, User Experience Engineering (UXE) Essentials Series