What you risk dealing with when neglecting UX Research
Now, let’s segue into a bit of a dark place. The one of the possible consequences you can face when overlooking UX research and diving into full-on design and development. I’ll break down each using real cases.
Here’s what you risk getting instead of the great results you strive for.
Wasted money and time on development
If you go right into the design and production processes and consider your assumptions as solid facts rather than validating them beforehand, you step into a zone of the unknown. Why? Because you invest money and hours of work on something that has no or little foundation under it. And so there is a chance that during user testing (please don't skip it either) or even worse after launch, problems may flood you and your team.
What can cause it? For example, your assumptions about people using a product turned out to be wrong, or features confuse users, or they don't need them to get the job done, etc. And so the unnecessary rework begins — you invest time and money to make things right.
Let me clarify UX research doesn't do some magic and prevents you at 100% from corrections. But there is quite a difference between redoing some avoidable processes and adding some tweaks. And numbers speak for that. The IEEE, an association of engineers and technologists, estimated that 40-50% of software development is rework one could avoid. Imagine your development agency rolled out the check for $90 000 at the end of your cooperation after multiple iterations and bug-fixing processes. $36 000 of those could have been saved if you hadn't skipped the UX part. How does it sound?
Also, sometimes one tiny missing detail can cost millions. That's what happened to Citibank, one the biggest financial institutions in the world. And it was not so long ago — in 2021. So long story short, a year earlier, in 2020, three Citibank employees made a transaction to their clients' creditors. It seems like a daily routine for them, right?
But here's a problem — instead of sending $7.8 million, they wired the humongous $900 million. You may rule it as a simple human mistake. To some extent, you'd be right. However, the fault was also the software that let it happen. See, the system warned about the transaction, but it didn't show the number that bank employees were about to send. They did check the transfer before approving it. They just didn't see anything wrong.
And here's another circle of troubles — Citibank demanded recipients give money back, but they refused, even a part of the sum. So the whole thing moved to court, and a judge ruled that creditors are not obliged to return them. As you can guess, the ending of this story is far from happy — Citibank lost $500 million basically for a lousy design.
Of course, most companies don't face problems this dramatic, but they still deal with mistakes they could have easily avoided through in-depth research and testing.
Losing chances to elevate revenues
Yes, you can save money by skipping UX research and building a strategy for your product based on the data it provides. It really is the case if you work for the short run, but if you look at it from a long-term perspective — the picture is different. Let me explain. When you come up with a digital product, you likely aim to boost the business metrics.
Depending on your goals, it can be increasing sales, the number of clicks on ads, visiting more web pages, etc. It comes down to simple math — the more goals you hit, the higher your product's conversion and revenue. So if people struggle with your website or app and have a poor user experience, it affects your conversion. For instance, a report shows that about 90% of surveyed users said they stopped using an app due to bad performance.
Sky-high customer support check
I guess we, as human beings, don't really like giving up. The same goes when people have trouble with an app or a website — they'd contact customer support. You might think users do it now and then, it's a common thing, and startups are ready for that. And you're right, except for cases when people struggle with your product simultaneously and flood to customer support to help them. Your employees may not be ready for such a tense situation, so you'd need them to work overtime or find extra people to deal with it, which in both cases means extra spending.
Let's imagine this — you’re a fintech startup that came up with a banking app. Since you decided there was no time or need to do deep UX research, including user testing, before diving into development, you missed a tiny detail — a confirmation popup or screen before making a transaction. When you launched an app, some of its users sent $2,000 instead of $200, others did the same but mixed $150 with $1500, and now they're unhappy about it.
So people massively turn to customer support trying to get their money back. Your crew works overtime to solve the issue, which means additional labor costs. On top of that, you also need to roll back and fix the problem, which is more expensive at this point of development. Ouch.
As a business owner, I think you have more things to take care of. Why stress about this one, right? UX research can help you avoid such issues as you get to test your product from various angles before hitting the market.
Struggling to build a connection with users and get their loyalty
Good design is when people can trouble-free navigate your product and get their job done. Great design is the latter, plus a deeper connection with your target audience that helps turn them into loyal advocates of your offer. This magic happens when you put users' needs at the center of the design process. And this, in turn, is possible with UX research — when you understand your potential customers and think of ways how your product can solve the issues they face. But, without in-depth analysis, achieving it can be a true challenge.
Moreover, it's not about an emotional connection with the target audience alone. There is a more rational side to it. As a business owner, you strive to reach customers and empower them to stay and use your product constantly, which is five times more cost-effective than attracting new ones. And so when you know your target audience, you will develop solutions to make them come back again and again and, thus, increase the retention rate.
Falling behind competitors
You'd probably agree that competition is ruthless and going strong. And so if you don't stand out, people won't see you. One of the ways to catch your target audience's eye is design that addresses their needs. And here we go again — UX research is what can help you achieve it. You get to explore other businesses' features and their success, compare them to what users want and develop a solution that would turn your customers' heads.
Here's a story about an app called Google Wave. It allowed people to build documents the company called "waves" from conversations. The app was a hot mix of features one would find in emails, instant messaging, online forums, and wikis.
What went wrong? The team filled Wave with the functionality they assumed people needed, but it didn't replace any collaboration tools on the market. The product turned out to be too complex for users to understand. So Google Wave moved on to be an invite-only service which didn't really benefit it as such a move caused friction for those who wanted to try the app. In 15 months, the team shut down the initiative.