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Chapter 13. Projects > Estimating Usability Work

Estimating Usability Work

As you plan and manage the flow of projects given a limited set of usability practitioners, it helps to accurately estimate the requirements for different projects. This allows better allocation of the resources available and can also provide a good estimate of the number of usability staff members you will eventually need within your organization.

For gold and silver projects, you can usually get a good idea of the level of effort needed for usability work by gauging a percentage of the overall project effort. Very small projects end up with large percentages of usability work because there is a limit on the amount you can reduce the interface development effort. No matter how simple the project, for gold and silver projects, you need to access data from users and test the design concepts. This said, you are likely to see a maximum of perhaps 25% of the project effort spent on usability. With larger projects, say, a typical e-commerce site costing $3 million, you might spend 10% of the budget on usability. As projects get larger, there may be a further reduction down to about 7% as you gain the ability to take advantage of economies of scale. If your plan for a gold or silver project has less than 5% of the budget allocated for usability work, you are probably making a mistake.[2]

[2] The figures in this paragraph are based on HFI's experience with its customer base. In addition, the 10% figure is also cited in a report by Nielsen and Gilutz [2003].


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