The short answer to the question above is “early in the development project.” For maximum ROI, user research methods must be implemented at the beginning of the project so that user requirements are well defined before design begins. UX evaluation must begin with rough prototypes so that little development effort is invested until a usable and attractive design is created and verified. The earlier you begin, the greater the ROI.
Some organizations prefer to role out UXE methods incrementally, beginning with a modest investment and increasing it as they gain more confidence in their ability to benefit from the techniques. This is the approach Dell Computer took when redesigning their e-commerce infrastructure. Other organizations dive right in, completely revamping their products or services using UXE methods. This is the approach Staples.com took. Both strategies were remarkably successful, as a Forrester Research report documents .
UXE methods offer a competitive advantage to any company that chooses to adopt them, with immediate tactical value and long-term strategic benefits. The opportunity costs of deferring UXE implementation only mount as customers seek richer user experiences. In today’s networked, interconnected marketplace, consumers will shift their loyalties to the companies and brands that can provide them with the user experience that they value.
The only question remaining is, “Will it be you?”