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November 27, 2018

Listen to users to avoid a 43% chance of your redesign projects failing

Still having trouble convincing your boss to conduct user testing? Then this article is just what you need. We have already demonstrated, in a previous article, the ROI that this kind of testing produces in terms of its effects on business. This time, we're going to take a look at its impact on productivity, and you're going to make new friends among the members of your senior management, financial management and management auditing teams, etc. In fact, you're going to find out how to go about listening to your web visitors and not simply be content with being able to guarantee better deliverables, how to improve your project's financial productivity, and how to reduce the risk of failure to a minimum for your company.

Are you productive?

You've probably replied in the affirmative to this question. Yet at a time when all businesses are leaning towards greater agility, studies demonstrate that a considerable amount of productivity is still being lost within organizations. Something you perhaps didn't know, however, is that we can actually quantify these productivity losses. Were you aware, for example, that we spend on average eight percent of our time at work in unproductive meetings? Or that it's still the case that only a quarter of meetings include any decision making items on their agendas? Or that two out of every three board meetings do not have a decision-making remit? These figures are based on several studies that have each produced corroborating results and on the analysis of more than 25,000 meetings. You can find our sources listed at the bottom of the article.

Is your launch/redesign project at risk?

When we stop simply looking at the world of work in general and instead focus specifically on IT projects – which includes website/mobile app launches, redesigns and upgrades – it's no longer just loss of productivity for the business we're talking about. The stakes involved take on a whole new dimension. In a study carried out by the Project Management Institute in 2015, 80% of the decision-makers questioned admitted to spending more than half their time reworking aspects of the project that had already been dealt with. Doing and redoing: does this still constitute working? Whatever the case may be, studies have shown that there is potential to optimize 50% of the time and costs involved in projects.

The Chaos Manifesto, which in 2013 looked at more than 50,000 IT projects, detailed the various underlying causes of this "doing and redoing":

  • changes of priority within companies in 40% of cases.

  • unsuitable specifications in 38% of cases.

  • a lack of definition and consistency with respect to objectives in 35% of cases.

"So?" you might say. Well, according to the Chaos Manifesto, the conclusion is obvious. Forty-three percent of launch/redesign projects will quite simply fail in one way or another due to delays, exceeded budgets, reduced deliverables or any combination of these three unfortunate consequences.

Listening to users as a way of helping your digital projects

A study carried out into 735 businesses by SDS Consulting showed that where digital projects are concerned, the UI work involved accounts for:

  • 40% of the development effort

  • 80% of unforeseen remedial work (the other 20% being bugs)

Listening to your users and focusing on improving the UI and UX, therefore, enables you to not only produce a better final result but will also contribute significantly to reducing the loss of productivity inherent to the project.

If, as we saw earlier, 50% of the time spent on a project is unproductive and the UI accounts for 40% of the development effort, then focusing on improving the UI/UX will enable you to improve the cost efficiency of your project by 50% x 40% = 20%. Expressed another way, listening to users thus provides you with a 20% gain in productivity in terms of the project's internal and external costs.

Is conducting user testing and listening to users cost effective?

There are no miracle solutions when it comes to optimizing your project. You will need to listen to your users during the project, analyze the results and implement optimization measures. The only question remaining, therefore, is that of the cost of carrying out the tests versus the expected gains in productivity.

The fourth edition of the bible of usability, ROI for Usability, published by the Nielsen Norman Group, provides us with several essential indicators:

  • The average cost allocated to listening user experience feedback amounts to 10-13% of the total project cost (which needs to be compared to the 20% you'll be acting on).

  • This cost is divided equally between the user testing and the optimization measures.

  • Where a project is ten times larger than another, the costs of optimization and listening to user experience feedback are not proportional; in fact they're only four times higher on average.

  • There are few differences at the international level, with the study having covered Europe, the United States and Australia.

  • And finally, the impact of the work carried out on improving the UX in terms of business indicators will be around +109%.

In brief, and expressed in simple terms, if you invest 1$ in optimization (half of it spent on testing), you will get $1 back in terms of productivity + $1 in terms of business levers. In other words, a return of 300% on the optimization process as a whole and 600% in the case of the user surveys themselves.

It's hardly surprising, therefore, that the big four GAFA companies put the value of the UX at one billion dollars!

Simulate the potential savings and gains for your own website/mobile app launch or redesign projects

All this of course gives us a great theory, but still only a theory nonetheless. This is why we have created a hidden-cost simulator that enables you to very simply and easily calculate the productivity gains you'll be able to make through user testing. Do you know the duration of your project? The size of your team? If yes, then you can make use of this tool, which takes all the data presented in this article, and plenty more besides, and uses it to build a robust and simple (though not simplistic) picture of both your hidden costs and the gains you can expect to make by testing the UX and listening to your customers.

This audit is free of charge, so please don't have any reservations about asking us to carry it out for you. As I promised, you're going to make friends among all the financial experts in your company.

No matter what the size of your project, an inevitable conclusion presents itself. You can choose to disregard user testing and face a 43% risk that your project will fail. Or you can take advantage of these UX tests and enjoy a 100% chance of at the very least improving the productivity of your project, and that's without even mentioning the positive business effects.

Ferpection helps its clients optimize their digital projects throughout the entire project life cycle by assisting and supporting them with the process of listening to their users. To find out more about the methodologies you can use to listen to your own users when undertaking redesign/overhaul projects, find out about the various solutions we offer on our website.

Some data if you want to go further:

Except for the Nielsen Norman Group report, most of those studies and researches are available for free online:

Workfront, 2015.The state of enterprise work. Survey over 617 professionals.

Nicholas C. Romano, Jr. & Jay F. Nunamaker, Jr., 2001. Meeting Analysis: Findings from Research and Practice.

Project Management Institute, 2015. Pulse of the Profession 2015: Capturing the Value of Project Management

Standish Group International, 2013. Chaos Manifesto. Research over 50 000 projects.

University of Oxford and McKinsey, 2012. Research over 5400 IT Projects.

ISBSG, 2016. Software project benchmarking.

SDS consulting, 2009. UX Business Impacts and ROI. Survey of 735 internet companies.

Nielsen Norman Group, 2016. ROI for usability, 4th edition

Clare-Marie Karat, 2005. Justifying cost-justifying usability

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Thibault Geenen

Thibault Geenen

Thibault is fascinated by the power of UX, especially user research and nowadays the UX for Good principles. As an entrepreneur, he's a huge fan of liberated company principles, where teammates give the best through creativity without constraints. A science-fiction lover, he remains the only human being believing that Andy Weir's 'The Martian' is a how-to guide for entrepreneurs.

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