Posted by: bellaviaresearch | January 7, 2010

Usability Testing Pays for Itself: $1:$10:$100

rule of thumb

I’m passionate about the value of usability testing, and regularly tell my clients that user research pays for itself. A client recently asked me to show the data behind my claim. I’ve certainly seen it anecdotally, but where is the hard proof that user research during product design pays for itself?

In my literature review, I found two interesting references that build a case for gathering user requirements when creating products.  Neither are very recent, but I would expect they could be extrapolated to apply to any sort of customer facing product, whether its a consumer electronic, website, or mobile app:

– “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 in design.” (Gilb, 1988)

– A change may cost 1.5 units of project resource during conceptual design, 6 units during early development, 60 during systems testing and 100 during post-release maintenance.”  (Pressman, 1992).

Have evidence from your own work that usability testing pays for itself?  Or a more recent study you can share?  I would love to hear it!


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