4 Value Generating Business Benefits of UX

Today, the bar for good user experiences (UX) is higher than ever before. People expect more than just a functional product; delivering a poor experience is no longer an option. With the barriers to software creation being lower than ever before, the key differentiator in the market is no longer the mere existence of a feature but the experience of using a system or service. For experience-driven companies, this differentiation in UX leads to more efficient development cycles and better business value.

Business leaders are starting to realize that high-quality UX leads to higher sales, satisfied customers, better brand perception, fewer training demands, fewer support requests, increased productivity, fewer errors, higher employee satisfaction, shorter release timelines, well-understood requirements, and lower costs.

Increased sales

People want products and services that meet their needs, are easy to use, and deliver a rewarding experience. Products that deliver a stellar user experience will sell better than those offering a poor one. It can be difficult for consumers to evaluate a product's user experience before purchasing it. Skillful marketing and aggressive selling methods alone can deliver short term returns, but selling a product that provides a poor user experience will result in unsatisfied customers, poor reviews, and diminished long-term value. Good user experience on commercial websites is equally, if not more important; users can very easily navigate to a competitor's site that provides a better experience.

Customer loyalty and repeat purchases

Great user experiences also satisfy existing customers and encourage loyalty. These customers have a higher propensity to make repeat purchases, renew their memberships, and become evangelists for your products. Conversely, poor user experiences can hurt your brand and force users to look for alternatives in the market.

Faster and cheaper development

There is a common misconception that adding user experience processes to product development makes projects take longer and cost more. However, when implemented correctly user experience methods save both time and money; a skilled practitioner who can quickly test and iterate to validate designs can help to avoid change requests and missed requirements later on in the development process. Estimates from Forrester [1] indicate that a one dollar problem fixed in design becomes a five dollar problem in development and a 30 dollar problem after the product is released.

Less documentation and lower training costs

Very few people read full product documentation for fun. Most users would prefer to start using a product and figure it out as they go along. The more usable a system is, the less documentation a user will have to read in order to grasp it. Although some enterprise systems may require training, the quicker a user can start to use a system the quicker they will become productive.

More than ever before, people expect stellar user experience by default. Many companies, especially larger enterprises, have yet to implement processes to create these experiences in their products and services. It is up to business leaders to understand how to build UX-enabled teams, nurture a user-centric company culture, and build long-term value into products. What are your thoughts on other business benefits of good UX?

[1] Gualtieri, Mike, Mike Gilpin, and Adam Knoll. "The Seven Qualities Of Wildly Desirable Software." Forrester. N.p., 24 Jan. 2011. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

Nicholas Tenhue is a user experience expert who currently serves as UX Manager at Orion Health. An alumnus of Microsoft Ventures, Nicholas also manages theuxblog.com, and hosts The UX Blog Podcast.