The Hidden Cost of Usability Testing

cost usability testing

Financial reminders when Usability Testing

Let’s be honest right from the outset; thorough and effective usability testing isn’t free. However, the alternative i.e. going live with an untested site, section, new page set etc. can be very costly if you get it wrong. But it still pays to know what you are letting yourself in for when you embark on such a project – and what you are getting for your money. (Some tips on how to control the cost probably wouldn’t go amiss either!)

Whether you recruit an agency to act on your behalf or designate a staff team to execute the usability testing, you need to be aware of the other potential costs before you set a budget.

Here are a few examples of what could be unplanned or unexpected costs in relation to a usability exercise:

  • Travel: if you have to stay away for the duration of the exercise, hotel and other travel and subsistence costs can quickly become significant. If it is possible to localise the work this could save considerable expenditure and be more convenient and easier to control and manage.
  • Catering: you might think ‘How much could this cost?’ if you are only providing a few sandwiches and drinks; but bear in mind that this provision is often charged at exorbitant rates (eg £1.20 for a soft drink, £5 for a sandwich). If you have a few testers raiding the fridge every few hours for a couple of days it can soon mount up. You might be better stocking up supplies yourself if that is an available option.
  • Costs of developing the prototype: this can mean more than just building a standard prototype as more levels of detail and additional features will probably be needed to facilitate the testing and get the best possible outcomes. It is often a good idea to build your prototype with testing specifically in mind so you don’t have to go through extensive (and potentially costly) modification later.
  • Costs relating to the implementation of change: what you discover from the testing process is quite likely to lead you to make changes to your site – and possibly fundamental ones. There will inevitably be a cost to this – and the later in the development process the usability testing is conducted, the more extensive and costly the changes are liable to be. Earlier testing is therefore desirable in terms of getting the offering right and containing costs as much as possible.

It can help to get advice from professionals before commissioning or instigating a usability testing project. They might be able to point out some areas where you can rationalise or make savings or some actions you can take now to save future expenditure.

If you are thinking about usability testing and would like a no-obligation chat with an experienced practitioner, contact us  today on +44(0)800 0246 247, or email

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