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1436Wait, Do Not Jump Into Redesign — Perform a UX Audit First!Oksana PletenUI/UX Designer

Wait, Do Not Jump Into Redesign — Perform a UX Audit First!

Every dollar invested in UX brings $100 in return. Learn to invest it right.

A few years ago, every self-respecting business should have had a website. It was as important as having a corporate email or a logotype. The website had played the role of an extensive business card with contacts and overall information about the enterprise. 

But now the situation has changed — both businesses and digital trends have evolved, moved online, and begun to interact with customers there most of the time. Entrepreneurs faced the situation when a website or another web product no longer met business goals the way it used to. This is where one of UI UX design services — UX audit — comes into play.

Why Should You Conduct A UX Audit?

It may seem that outdated apps and websites require new perspectives, a fresh look, a redesign, but it is not always true.

According to RainCastle’s web design & marketing blog, 1 in 3 marketers were not happy with their latest website redesign because the main issues have not been resolved. For instance, a user could not find “Contact Us” or “Add to Cart” buttons and left the site. A common situation. So what can be done about it? A UX audit.

In the meantime, a study by Google offers quite a few interesting findings:

  • Compared to two years ago, smartphone users today are 50 percent more likely to expect to purchase something immediately by using their smartphones. 
  • 53  percent of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load. 
  • 46 percent of people say they would not purchase from a brand again if they had interrupted the mobile experience.
  • Nearly 9 in 10 smartphone owners who describe the mobile brand experience as helpful or relevant would purchase from the brand again.

It does not really matter which industry you are in, e-commerce or anything else — as long as you have a digital presence, you must ensure that the user experience is outstanding. And the best way to do it right is to perform a UX audit first.

To persuade you that it is a step worth taking, I encourage you to google and look through research studies done on the ROI of usability in your industry. Go even further and calculate the ROI of usability in your particular business – do it yourself or hire a Business Analyst. This will offer you a unique insight into the world of User Experience. 

So, what is a UX audit?

Let’s Get Into the Terminology, Shall We? 

User Experience Audit. Sometimes referred to as a UX review, it is a process of performing an expert analysis of the client’s website, app, or other digital product, and the object of this analysis is how the user interacts with this very product. The purpose of UX audit is to highlight existing usability issues and suggest ways of improving functionality, usability, and effectiveness. Usually, a UX audit is from 2 to 4 weeks long.

Design team. UX audit is performed by an expert UX designer or a professional design team. They check the digital product for compliance with the UX best practices in the first place. On the finish line, the design team may organize a presentation or a video conference and walk the client and other stakeholders through every issue or recommendation.

Usability standards. Theseare defined as an extent to which a system can be used by certain people to effectively achieve certain goals. This definition sounds a bit trickier, but it can be broken down into two main parts. The first part is about users and their context. It includes specific users with their specific goals and their particular context of use. The second part is about the attributes of the usable product. It consists of effectiveness and satisfaction. It does not matter how great the technology and aesthetics of your product are if it is not customized according to the needs of your users.

To put it simply, a UX audit explains why users have problems with a product and provides suggestions on how to improve their experience.

What Phases Are Involved in a UX Audit?

Depending on the product type, audit goals, and requirements, a UX audit process may include the following list of phases:

  1. Interviewing stakeholders
  2. Reviewing and understanding user goals
  3. Reviewing analytics
  4. Checking usability standards
  5. Conducting heuristic evaluation 
  6. Compiling the audit report and formulating recommendations
  7. Drawing conclusions

Interviewing stakeholders

Before the magic happens, a design team needs to prepare thoroughly. They meet with a client for a kick-off meeting or even workshop to discuss the main business and usability objectives, user flow, and previous experience and issues. It is also useful to conduct interviews with stakeholders who have an interest in the product. These can include product managers, marketers, salespeople, and/or customer service representatives.

Reviewing and understanding user goals

With the whole picture of business goals, it is time to go outside and meet the users. The best practice in this step is to create user flows. These user flows will show the user’s objectives in different parts of the product and describe the way they will take to get there. This stage can turn into a full-fledged user testing process with its own methods, such as surveys.

Do you want to learn more about UX testing?

Check my recent article “The Value of User Testing: How to Find the Hidden Opportunity?”.

Alex Pletnov Oksana Pleten UI / UX Designer

Reviewing analytics

Some businesses use analytical tools such as Google Analytics or HotJar to track the performance of their product. If not, designers will have several tools to explore. At this stage, it is important to check how many users visit the website, how often, at what step they leave, and what difficulties they face. In fact, this step is necessary not only as a UX audit measure but as an everyday action taken by the marketing team to keep a finger on the pulse of the website.

Checking usability standards

As I mentioned earlier, usability standards are based on research from a variety of fields — including cognitive psychology, computer science, technical communication, and UX design itself. Using these guidelines and a UX audit sample, the UX specialist can check navigation, common design elements, consistency, visual hierarchy, and adaptivity to different devices. A crucial moment here is testing accessibility for the web products to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

Conducting heuristic evaluation

What are usability heuristics or standards? These are the 10 principles developed by Jakob Nielsen to evaluate usability and audit UX.  In particular, the system status should be visible, and it should follow real-life conventions, speak a common language with the user. The product should give a user a feeling of freedom and control by offering the undo and redo opportunities. It should be consistent, flexible, and efficient, offer proper error messages, and minimize the user’s memory load. Aesthetics should not be forgotten either. Overall, the designer has to try to see things from the user’s point of view as they would take steps to meet their goals. Also, throughout the process of heuristic evaluation, a designer should take screenshots with detailed notes.  

Compiling the audit report and formulating recommendations

At the end of the journey, the design team will prepare a document that clearly and concisely conveys the findings. This document or report should include pre-made screenshots with the list of issues, level of their severity, and additional notes that explain the issues in more detail. Also, the design team should offer mockups and resources for improvements. The report may recommend basically any measure necessary for the project success, including testing on a larger sample of users, testing on mobile devices, making SEO enhancements, or even launching a complete redesign of the website. 

What Are the Benefits of a UX Design Audit?

Forrester’s research once reported that, on average, every dollar invested in UX brings $100 in return. Truth or not, but here are some potential benefits that professional UX audits and reviews may bring: 

  • Increased conversion. A high-quality website UX audit will focus on the real needs of the user and improve conversion, which may reportedly increase by 30-75% if the timely action is taken.
  • Time-efficiency. Fixing problems in the existing website design may be more time-efficient than redesigning.
  • Cost-efficiency. A UX audit can help you to understand how your users behave and to get to know them better. Subsequent fixes can improve the user’s journey and increased user engagement. As a result, a business will spend less money on client acquisition and client retention.
  • Engaged users. UX site audit often shows very unpredictable results that have a great impact on the product. Anyway, it can help to build an understanding between business and its users. It can show the way of how to improve customer engagement and work at peak performance.

A Final Remark

Not everyone needs a UX audit.

– Wait, what? What was the entire article about then?

A UX audit will not help every business to achieve their goals. For some, a redesign is the only solution.

So how do you know, which service to go for – UX Audit Service or website redesign? The answer is simple: ask an expert from an UI UX design company. A professional UX designer will look into your website and tell you which service would suit your needs best.

Would you like an expert UX designer to review your website?

Our professionals would gladly look through your software product and see if the UX audit would help. Contact us to learn more.

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