Cost justifying Usability

Below are gathered case study summaries from multiple authoritative sources and are based on numerous research projects:

The benefits of good web design

Creative Good

  • To hammer home its point, Creative Good offered the striking revelation that a dollar spent on advertising during the 1998 holiday season produced $5 in total revenue, while a dollar spent on customer experience improvements yielded more than $60.


  • On IBM's website, the most popular feature was the search function, because the site was difficult to navigate. The second most popular feature was the 'help' button, because the search technology was so ineffective. IBM's solution was a 10-week effort to redesign the site, which involved more than 100 employees at a cost estimated 'in the millions.' The result: In the first week after the redesign, use of the 'help' button decreased 84 per cent, while sales increased 400 per cent.

Jakob Nielsen

  • Alert Box, June 2000. It's quite normal for e-commerce sites to increase sales by 100% or more as a result of usability, but configurator-driven sites can probably increase sales by at least 500% by emphasizing usability. More important, they can probably avoid 9 of 10 returns by eliminating most mis-designed items.

The cost of bad web design

Creative Good

  • Poor customer experiences will have a devastating effect on holiday revenues, even with the most conservative estimates. Given an estimated $9.5 billion in holiday spending despite a 39 per cent failure rate, the industry stands to lose over $6 billion.
  • 39 per cent of test shoppers failed in their buying attempts because sites were too difficult to navigate. Additionally, 56 per cent of search attempts failed.

Cyber Dialogue

  • The absolute number of online bankers grew 100,000 to a total of 6.3 million in the past 12 months, but 3.1 million U.S. adults have discontinued their use of online banking according to Cybercitizen Finance from Cyber Dialogue. The study also found that only 35 per cent of online bankers that discontinued their service were inclined to try it again.
  • "Although Cybercitizens begin banking online to save time, more than 50 per cent have discontinued use because they find the service too complicated or were dissatisfied with the level of customer service," said Michael Weiksner, Manager of Finance Strategies at Cyber Dialogue.

Forrester Research

  • Of 20 major sites audited, 51 per cent werecompliant with simple web usability principles such as "is the site organized by user goals?" and "does a search list retrievals in order of relevance?" (in other words, the average site violated half of these simple design principles).
  • Most sites will waste between $1.5M and $2.1M on redesigns next year (1999). Why? Designers are engaged in an endless cycle of overhauls that don't fix their problems. Their goals of achieving fast performance and consistent look and feel are directionally correct but miss out on at least 20 other more specific usability objectives. And since ease of use is not measured, flaws go undetected.

Jared Spool

  • In a study of 15 large commercial sites users could only find information 42 per cent of the time even though they were taken to the correct home page before they were given the test tasks.

JS Online

  • While internet sales continue to soar, recent surveys indicate that between 27-66% of user abandoned their shopping carts.

Jupiter research

  • Loss of approximately 50 per cent of the potential sales from the site as people can't find stuff.
  • Losing repeat visits from 40 per cent of the users who do not return to a site when their first visit resulted in a negative experience.

Zona Research

  • 62 per cent of web shoppers gave up looking for the item they wanted to buy online (and 20 per cent had given up more than three times during a two-month period).
  • Even the most loyal internet users are having a hard time shopping online, with 28 per cent of the 239 internet savvy users reporting difficulties in finding products and services. (and 20 per cent had given up at least three different times while shopping on the web, with 39 per cent reporting they have decided either not to buy online or to do their shopping elsewhere - with catalogues and bricks and mortar stores the big winners
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