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The Hidden Cost of Bad UX

What’s your user experience costing you? 

The question may not have even crossed your mind before.  After all, it’s normal that some users will leave your site without taking action, right? That percentage is what leads to your bounce rate.

But when you consider just how much a poor user experience may be contributing to that number, the result is particularly staggering.

Companies Missing the Mark

arrows missing the mark on user experience

The good news is that, according to an eConsultancy report, 78% of companies want to deliver the best possible user experience to their customers. Yet over half of them (55% to be exact) don’t conduct any user testing.

And that lack of interest or knowledge in the end effect can cost – big time. Brands both large and small are learning that a bad UX can ripple across much more than just a website. It can affect social media, review sites, and can trickle offline into everyday conversations. And these experiences just build on each other.

For example, Bank of America was falling behind their competition. They sought out Adaptive Path to find out why. They discovered that users were having trouble registering for online banking (at a time when the concept was relatively new) and finding the entire process cumbersome and frustrating.

Nearly half of those that started the process ultimately gave up.

Bonus: Free Exclusive Download: Conversion Optimization Checklist.

Can You Put a Number on Poor Usability?

Although it varies from industry to industry, various studies have shown that that bad customer experiences add up – to the tune of $84 billion per year in the U.S. 

In 2013, cosmetics company Avon was looking to upgrade their order system with a complete mobile overhaul. 

They tested the system in Canada first, and it was revealed that the iPad version was simply too difficult to use. It worked as intended, but the user experience was a nightmare.

Considering that many Avon salespeople host parties for and network among family and friends, having a nearly unusable point of sales system is a recipe for disaster. Avon continued using the software in Canada, but ate a painful $125 million in software development costs from scrapping the global roll-out of the project.

If ever there were a crystal clear signal that UX matters, it’s when you lose the people that form the very sales backbone of your company.

Looking Beyond Customers

It’s very common for companies to think of user experience improvement only in terms of customers or salespeople and the revenue they bring. But UX is much more than client-side relationships. It can also affect development costs and productivity.

IEEE conducted a study on how UX affects development mistakes and found some shocking numbers behind it. 

Out of all development projects started, around 5-15% of them are eventually abandoned because of poor usability. 

And if you think that number isn’t that important, think again. That amounts to $150 billion dollars lost.

And what’s more, UX doesn’t (and shouldn’t) just affect people. 

While their experience on your site is paramount, good UX seeps into everything you do – from the software you use to the infrastructure of your company itself. Customer experience across every touch-point matters, and neglecting one is just as bad as if you had neglected them all.

Common UX Complaints

a website's UX being rebuilt

UX design and infrastructure requires a more holistic approach that branches into all areas of the brand.

Common user complaints like slow-loading pages, bland stock photos, and a homepage that throws everything at you but the kitchen sink – those are issues that nearly all users can agree on as frustrating.

But UX goes much deeper.

For example, how many times have you checked out on an e-commerce page only to be greeted by a forced registration?

Even if you promise such tidbits as saving their order for later or other carrots, people simply don’t want to input their email address or remember yet another password – particularly if they’re buying a gift and have absolutely no interest in getting things like catalogs in the mail or email updates.

And checkout is just one example. Not every user has the same path to conversion or follows the same process to get the result they want. Forcing (or corralling) them strictly through the funnel simply creates friction and resentment.

And when they have problems, how easy is it for them to contact you? Better yet, how easy is it for them to contact you in a way that they prefer?

Companies make their contact information unusually difficult to get to – if they elect to show it at all.

You want the surest way to make sure your customers never reach you with their questions? Hide your contact info, force them to register to submit a support ticket, or stick them on hold with someone halfway across the world whose language skills may not be up to par.

It’s a delicate balancing game of cost-effective versus customer-effective, and as these studies have shown, investing in good UX matters – and pays you back many times over.

With all of these points in mind, it can be difficult to know where or how to start. 

Do you start with user testing and then work on redesigning the page based on their feedback, or do you start at the customer service level and get rid of all the little points of friction that cause users to leave? 

Creating the foundation for a good UX involves covering a great deal of ground – but you’re not in it alone.

A great first start is to find out how your UX actually ranks- grab an expert UX Score here to see where you're missing out on customers.

About the author:

Janani B.

Janani has a Master's in Design Thinking and writes frequently about UX, design, psychology, and other topics.