Doug Collins wrote an interesting article proposing a formula for valuing UX.
In a nutshell, Collins argues that the average UX designer eliminates at least 25% of the rework that developers need to do. This means hiring a UX designer is nearly always a risk-free investment.
I could quibble with the 25% number, but it essentially feels right, at least from an order of magnitude standpoint.
But, to be honest, I think Collins is missing the point. Most products don’t fail because of costly engineering rework. They fail because they don’t solve real problems for their users.
So good UX designers don’t just design features. They design the entire product, making sure that it’s actually solving the problems its users need solved.
This is the difference between a beautiful product nobody uses and an ugly one that people love. *Cough* Craigslist *Cough* It’s hard to put a value on that type of work, but it’s clearly more than a 25% cost savings.