Effective usability design can clearly provide some pretty hard benefits:

Half of all electronics returned to stores for a refund are actually working as they should, but the customer has not managed to figure out how to get the thing to function properly. Twenty minutes is all the time the average American is willing to spend on learning how to use a new device, before simply giving up and heading for the returns department.

The study found that the majority of serious usability issues were caused by poor product definition, meaning that the requirements for the device were never fully explained to the engineering staff. Properly defined designs usually led to usable devices.

Maybe the reason why iPod players sell so well is simply that the intuitive user interface leads to fewer returns.

Since all our process requirements are always fully explained to the engineering staff, there is clearly no scope for us to get efficiency improvements through improved usability.


  1. Extending these ideas a bit further – if we treat the design of our products and services in this way, there will likely be a huge reduction in customer contact needed. While signposting, branding etc can make some inroads into unnecessary contact, it is the product and services design & integration that will make the big difference.

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