4 reasons to invest in UX design

4 min read
Rosie Allabarton
  •  Mar 13, 2017
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There’s still an element of ambiguity around the financial returns of user experience design. This may be due to the amount of time it takes for a UX-led approach to “pay off,” the relative newness of the field, and awareness about UX design in the mainstream.

But companies that fail to invest in this area will find they’re soon overtaken by competitors who put users front and center of everything they do.

Related: 13 impressive statistics on UX

If you’re still in doubt about why you should invest in UX design (or, more likely, your executives are the ones in need of convincing), we at The UX School interviewed more than 60 of the world’s leading UX experts to get their insights into the return on investment (ROI) of UX design.

In this article we’ve taken our findings and focused on the 4 main reasons why investment in UX is not only hugely beneficial to organizations of every kind, but actually crucial to their success over the long term.

You’ll spend less on web development

Research by Dr. Susan Weinschenk revealed that developers spend 50% of their time reworking projects. Look at that like this: 50% of a developer’s salary is wasted on fixing errors that a UX design process would have weeded outTwitter Logo during an earlier iteration. That’s a lot of wasted money.

“Developers spend 50% of their time reworking projects.”

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Image from Isaac Barrel’s post on why you should design to develop

But with a UX design process in place, designs are tested and iterated on well before they’re handed off to a developer. Changes made during prototyping are easier to make—and it’s so much cheaper to do so at this earlier stage. As this Forbes article pointed out: “According to IBM, code defects are 30 times more expensive to correct than using the right information in the first place. It is extremely unlikely that these coding defects will occur if you choose the UX design.”

At companies that invest in UX, products get released faster because developers spend their time on projects that need significantly fewer alterations.

You’ll increase sales

A 2016 design study of 408 different companies found that the more a company invested in and focused on design, the more sales they saw. The companies with the highest investment in UX, referred to as “design unicorns,” saw their sales increase by 75%. Companies that were less invested in UX (they considered themselves simply “design-centric”) still saw their sales increase by 60%.

“The more a company invests in and focuses on design, the more sales they see.”

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Even if a company doesn’t commit 100% to becoming UX-led, even a small investment in this area will lead to increased sales.

Why do sales increase? A few reasons:

  • Customers can more easily navigate a site and locate what they’re looking for
  • Customers who are happy interacting with a site are less likely to become frustrated or disengaged, so they’re more likely to complete transactions
  • The product has been created with the target audience in mind and then marketed to them, so the right people find the right products
  • The buying process has been made as smooth and delightful as possible so that customers return and recommend

Every dollar invested in UX brings $100 in return

This is an average figure, but it’s a ROI of an impressive 9,900%. How does UX design bring about such a high return? It’s a combination of factors, including lower cost of customer acquisition, lower support costs, increased customer retention, and increased market share.

We’ve seen the results of this in the top 10 companies who lead in customer experience. When compared to their peers, they outperformed the S&P index with more than triple the returns.

“Every dollar invested in UX brings $100 in return.”

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And if you don’t invest at all? As we found during the compilation of our white paper, by not investing in UX design we’re globally losing billion of dollars in revenue every yearTwitter Logo—and that’s in ecommerce alone. This is likely to become a trillion-dollar issue over the course of the next 3 years if the current uptake of user-centric processes remains as it is.

You’ll build customer loyalty and increase word-of-mouth referrals

According to this study, customer experience will overtake price and product as key product differentiators within the next 3 years. Successful companies will be the ones that put their customers first and give them fantastic experiences.

There’s a reason for this: Happy customers not only spend money and return, they recommend the product to their friends and become loyal users.

Harvard Business Review found that satisfied customers are much more likely to recommend a product to their friends via word of mouth. In fact, 23% of customers who had a positive experience told 10 or more people about it. That’s free advertising from a trusted source, and all because the goals of the business were aligned with the goals of the user.


The quality of an experience can be the deciding factor between completing a transaction or giving up halfway, recommending a product to a friend or tweeting about a unsatisfactory interaction, returning to a site or going to a competitor.

Over time these seemingly small details add up to losses of billions—soon to be trillions—of dollars a year in revenue. That’s reason enough to invest in UX design.

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