How to Convince Your Boss/Client on Usability Testing

The best way to convince your boss or client to invest in improving usability is to inform them about the benefits of it in terms of increased profits or productivity. However, just showing that potential benefits are likely to exceed the costs might not be enough if your suggested approach requires changing the company’s culture (for example, when there is a ‘UX expert’ designer who does not like his work challenged), you need to address some underlying concerns and have persuasive, logical arguments, as well as to appeal to managers’ emotions and ambitions.

Successful strategies in convincing bosses to invest in usability:

  1. Think strategically. Focus on the key projects in which usability is important, some of the projects might be successful enough the way they are, the costs of usability testing everything might discourage your boss from even trying. Also, focus on projects where it is easy to measure the performance before improvements in usability and after, so the returns on investment are visible.
  2. Identify a top-level champion. Identify somebody in the company who is a user advocate, or some manager who is leading customer centered initiatives and show him how usability can support his goals: how it is linked to various business objectives, show some usability testing footage of users struggling with the product.
  3. Raise awareness. Organizational changes are more successful when there is a team effort. Share past reports, user videos, usability best practices with other team members, send newsletters.
  4. Demonstrate that it is really needed. Run a mini user testing session, just 3-5 users and demonstrate the key insights of it – a video of users struggling with some problems that are hard to identify without user testing is more convincing than a presentation about the benefits of user testing in general. You could also run a mini test against competitors.
  5. Demonstrate the return on investment. In order to be convincing, case studies used should be in the same industry, very specific projects. It might also be a good idea to implement a small change and show the results of it in order to make stakeholders more confident that you know what you are doing and that your approach can bring a high return on investment.
  6. Talk the right language. Use simple terminology that others understand and care about: not UI, UX, users, ease of use etc., but key performance indicators, revenues, transactions.

This is a good presentation template to use in order to convince others to do usability testing: . Pdf version:


Be ready for common objections and user testing myths

The following ones are common:

  • We have analytics, there is no need for user testing. Explain that they need to understand not only what is happening, but also why it is happening in order to make good design decisions.
  • Usability testing is expensive. Great results can be achieved with recruiting only 5 users or testing paper prototypes instead of finished products. Emphasize the value of testing and the risks of not doing it. Introduce various contemporary tools and recruiting options (e.g. moderated and unmoderated testing platforms) and show their costs.
  • Usability testing is complicated and time consuming. Create a timeline to demonstrate that it can be done quickly.
  • We apply the best practices or hire a designer who is an expert in usability. That is great, however there is no other way of finding out how actual users perceive the product than doing user testing.

There might be a multitude of other arguments, you need to know your company, the industry and their main concerns to prepare in advance.


Convince your boss to make specific usability improvements

When trying to convince your boss to address specific usability issues you have discovered, cost and benefit analysis is an excellent tool.

You could make a basic cost and benefits statement very easily, just take a piece of paper and draw a vertical line in the middle. List the expected benefits on the left (e.g. increased sales) and costs on the right (e.g. user testing costs). Try to be as realistic as possible.


Conducting a cost and benefit analysis:

  1. Identify the benefits and how to achieve them. For example, user testing data indicates that 20% of users are unable to search for products using your product search form due to a specific usability issue. You have 500 monthly visitors, thus 100 them are affected. The benefit would be 100 additional users every month who are able to use the search form successfully.
  2. Estimate costs. You must include all the costs. Total cost = (design hours to create a better solution + hours required to implement the changes) X average hourly salaries of relevant staff members. If you are planning to have several iterations of testing and refinement (which is recommended), include that to the total cost. Let’s say the total cost is $2500.
  3. Estimate the benefit. The problem prevents 20% of users from achieving their goals, which constitutes 100 users per month. The conversion rate is 5% (5% of users end up buying something), thus 5 paying customers are lost monthly. On average, a customer spends $100, thus $500 in profit is lost monthly, $6000 annually.
    So, if the usability problem that prevents users from searching is solved, there would be a $6000 increase in profit per year. However, you need to subtract the costs of implementing the solution:
    First year profit increase = $6000 – $2500 = $3500.
    Second year profit increase = $6000.
    Third year profit increase = $6000.
    Assuming that the lifespan of the website is 3 years, the total benefit of the change = $3500 + $6000 + $6000 = $15500.

N.B. The calculation above is very simplistic and does not take into account one of the fundamentals of finance: the present value discount rate, which makes the value of $1 today higher than the value of $1 some time in the future (with 2% discount rate the total benefit above is not $15500, but $12649). Many templates include that (though you need to specify the rate). In case you are going to present it to somebody in the company who is interested in real values, let someone from accounting or who knows finance have a look at it.

A downloadable template for doing costs-benefits analysis: .


If you would like to calculate the return on investment of increased productivity, reduced reliance on help desks, increased conversion rate, reduced costs of informal training, decreased drop-out rate or reduced learning curve, HumanFactors International offer online calculators for that: They are very straightforward to use, examples are provided, no finance or Excel knowledge is needed.