How to Show that the Benefits of Usability Testing Can Outweigh Costs

Software that was once put in a box is now available on the web with applications expanding rapidly into domains across many industries as new business models and technological innovation makes them ubiquitous. This has elevated concerns for usability as there are more users from around the world from different countries with different perspectives. In particular, with SaaS-based business models, users can get a free trial somewhere else if they’re not satisfied. Hence usability has come to the forefront as a critical element of quality. But how to justify putting in the effort (and money) to design or increase your application’s usability? Here’s a straightforward method to show benefits of usability testing.

Step 1

Conduct a usability test on your current software application.

  1. This could be an old or existing version.
  2. Define a task(s) and sub-tasks that are typical in daily usage.
  3. Use actual users executing real tasks, measure completion rates, time to complete the tasks, and errors.

Step 2

Identify and document the problems and then fix them (or a subset).

Step 3

Conduct a usability test for the new software version.

  1. Match user demographics from the first test, i.e. same user group type, experience, etc.
  2. Use the same tasks and measure the same items as in Step 1.

Step 4

Calculate the improvement in measured usability.

  1. Average time to complete each task/sub-task, completion, and error rates.

Step 5

For each sub-task and for the overall tasks done together, multiply the time saved by the number of users that execute that task/day.

Step 6

If users execute a task several times/day, multiply by that number.

Step 7

Convert time units to hours and then multiply time saved (in hours) by users’ salary (per hour).

Step 8

Determine the savings for one year by multiplying the previous figure by days/year that users execute the task.

Step 9

This equals the total annual savings from the usability improvement due to time saved by the software improvements that allowed users to complete task(s) more quickly.


For step 2, you can also make a single change and isolate the effect of that one particular change on the user’s performance. Or if you are just interested in getting the biggest bang for the buck as fast as you can, make as many improvements as possible within your time objectives.

Learn more about how XBOSoft can help you get your usability testing efforts off the ground.

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