Texas Learns: Usability Testing Can Save Millions

Need a case study to help justify the ROI of performing even the most basic user testing? Look no further: The Dallas Cowboys’ new $1.2 billion stadium includes a vastly expensive, 180 foot HD screen that, besides its intended uses, hangs so low that punted footballs hit it (video). The estimated costs to fix this vary (one places the cost at $2 million), but it’s pretty easy to see the value of some perfunctory usability testing here.

When you’re building a football stadium, put football players in it and let them play. This also shows why user testing your own designs isn’t sufficient: I doubt Jerry Jones can punt a ball high enough to hit that screen.

  • http://josh.ev9.org/ Josh E.

    I totally get your point, but at the same time I wonder: How would you user test this situation?

    I guess you could look at statistics about mean and max punt heights in the NFL. Or maybe you can bring in some real kickers and ask them to kick as high as they can (though this would neither be in the context of a game or inexpensive to carry out). I agree that something should have been done. I’m just not sure what…

  • http://acleandesign.com Loren

    I would say that both of those solutions are reasonable. And the expense is negligible: When one spends over a billion dollars on a project, the extent to which usability research and testing can be taken is surprising. Say you want to set aside $500,000 for usability testing: that’s under 0.05% of your budget!

  • http://echouser.com Felix

    I’m with Loren, it’s totally worth the investment. And it doesn’t have to be complicated: simply let the people who will use the stadium (staff, workers, attendants, players, managers, VIPs, whoever) come and use it, and the issues will come to light whether you want them to or not.