User Experience Testing – Trends and Futures

This article on ZDNet regarding UX Testing budgets is intriguing.

As the info from shows, we see a not-so-surprising set of stats regarding UX testing approaches and expenditures when polling a group of UX professionals.  One does not have to look far to see the ongoing focus on user experience improvements, and the desire to extract increasing marginal utility out of minor UX tweaks in an effort to one-up the competition and keep folks coming back. 

It was interesting to note the importance placed on wearable technology and gesture interaction as trends affecting UX research in the next 5 years.  The applications for those technologies have been demonstrated, but there are likely many more that will drop over the transom onto our desks in the years to come.   

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One curiosity:  over half the respondents indicate they have no set monthly budget for usability testing.  This leaves one to then wonder – what is the spend range and frequency in those cases? 

  • Of the roughly 49% of responses indicating that a monthly budget exists, over 86% of those indicated a monthly figure of less than $10k.
  • This translates into no more than a person-month in terms of burdened cost, given that the majority of that slice is also in the several $1000’s range.

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One might assume that the 51% with no monthly budget might fall in the same approximate distribution pattern as those with a budget. But then again – perhaps there are some expenditures hiding in that slice that reflect unpredictable schedules, and potentially some very large dollar investments. (Note the largest group of respondents indicated they run usability tests on an “as needed” basis.)    

One might also conclude that this large “no budget” slice may simply indicate insufficient traceability on UX testing expenditures – the numbers may be rolled up under other broader monikers such as QA or Focus Group Testing, or even Beta Testing.

Key takeaways from my perspective:  The old adage of you can’t manage what you can’t measure –

  • If usability testing is important to your success, then you should develop the cost tracking metrics that will show you the bang you are getting for your buck.
  • If you don’t know what you are spending on today’s usability testing, then you will face serious hurdles in addressing tomorrow’s usability test requirements as the technology sands shift beneath your feet.


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  1. [...] You can't manage what you can't measure – know what your UX testing costs you today so you can plan for tomorrow's usability testing hurdles.  [...]

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