ROI of information architecture and user experience design

Here are some of the things from my own experience that directly translate into company’s gains or losses based on the state of product design:

  • When a product is very complex in terms of features and navigation, the development costs increase exponentially. Time to gather requirements, process them, design screens, go back and forth to validate them, code it and then test it becomes a very long, expensive and error-prone task.
  • Long product development cycles and frequent issues eventually take toll on people. Constant drowning in confusion and bugs and not seeing incremental successful implementations causes good talent to leave. We all know that people who are very good at what they do will most likely not continue spending their time in environments like this. Losing people triggers a whole chain reaction of searching for new employees or contractors, training them, etc. but most importantly, it disrupts the entire product development cycle. Tasks don’t get done, issues don’t get fixed, product update releases get delayed, user frustration grows, number of customer service calls and tickets increases, and so on.
  • Products that are poorly (or not good enough) designed eventually push away users, especially if there’s a better product from competition. This translates into direct losses for the organization. In most cases executive leaders blame market conditions, marketing, operations, etc. They have to start understanding how critical product design is. It’s not about pretty colors, graphics, animations, etc. It’s about how easily a user can navigate a product to accomplish all of his/her goals. No pretty designs will ever help them do this – only solid information architecture.
  • Products have to be minimal in functionality from the start and then carefully built up as they evolve. In some cases it’s actually easier and makes more sense to build a brand new product than continue to add more features to an existing one. Simple products take less time to build, less time to test and are much easier to use by definition. It’s really hard to push this vision of simplicity in large organizations though. I try every single time and I fail often, however, I still continue to educate my colleagues when I can and hope that it will bring positive results.

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