Measuring ROI in Web Design

Measuring the return on investment in design is one of the most difficult tasks facing your company. Many designers will agree it is near impossible to fit the aesthetics of great design into a finite measurement like profit margins. Unfortunately, this is the reason design is often sold short when it comes to justifying investments in creative projects and determining their ROI.

Thankfully, calculating ROI from the perspective of website design offers a concrete way to harness and analyze measurable results.
“Prove what’s provable,” says Fast Company’s Bill Breen in “No Accounting for Design?” Although isolating ROI from design is no easy task, it can be possible through your website.

A return on investment equals longer visits

If your visitors are clicking on your homepage and leaving, you obviously have a problem. It’s a fairly obvious comparison—the more time a person spends in a store, the more likely they are to buy. But keeping them there doesn’t mean burying them in tons of content and cryptic navigation. In fact, that’s the quickest way to lose them.

When clicking on a website, people make a decision about the credibility of an organization in as little as 1/20 of a second, say Lance Loveday and Sandra Niehaus, authors of Web Design for ROI. That’s barely enough time to register basic functionality and aesthetics!

You can measure ROI from good design based on the length of time people are spending on your site. Your design should be clean, simple and easy to navigate with a clear path to what you want visitors to do on every page. This is the most effective way to turn 0-second visits into better ROI. Just think about how many leads you might have at the end of the month if 10% more of your visitors read your site instead of leaving immediately?

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Optimize every aspect of your website to fit business objectives

Don’t over-invest in fancy applications, unnecessary animation, or other pointless mechanisms on your site. Your visitors aren’t coming to your site to play games, that is, unless that’s what you’re selling.

You should only be investing in design that serves your business objectives or enhances usability. If you overextend your budget here, you’re definitely not seeing an increase in ROI. The more you spend on pointless bells and whistles, the more ROI you lose when they don’t garner real results.

“An efficient website typically yields an incredibly positive ROI compared to costs for other resources,” says Loveday and Niehaus. You can measure this by calculating how much your cost decreases and traffic increases when you banish unnecessary design elements.
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Shopping cart abandonment means the wheels are broken

Another statistic from Web Design for ROI shows the average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 59.8%. Just because a shopping cart is full doesn’t mean it’s going to make it to the checkout line.

What if you built a better shopping cart? If your users aren’t following through with transactions, think about what you can do to present a clear path to a sale. Perhaps an email reminder that their saved items will be lost?

Presenting your customers with a call to action can be as simple as a computer-generated email. So can seeing a return on your investment by measuring your decrease in abandoned carts. If you’re averaging $200 a sale, just imagine how you could maximize ROI if you increased your number of completed checkouts by 10%.
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Measuring ROI in the interest of justifying time and money spent on good design may be elusive, but it’s not impossible. The most important element is to be realistic about what you can prove and know what you simply have to trust.

Design is now gaining the awareness and respect it rightly deserves as a strategic and profit-building business tool,” says Step Inside Design’s Rob Wallace in “Design ROI Re-Envisioned.” And you can always trust your business will benefit from going back to basic branding tools, which includes great design. Although many companies struggle with measuring ROI from design, it is possible get the cold, hard stats you are seeking if you approach design and ROI from the perspective of your website.

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