UX Audit, a Step-by-Step Guide

Post by 
Anastasiia Fomychova
Published 
October 29, 2020
W

e wrote this article to give you a step-by-step guide through which you will learn how to conduct a UX audit to improve your user experience. But before we get into the details, let's define:

What is a UX audit?

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It's a way to pinpoint the bottlenecks of any product, determine what challenges potential customers are facing and why they leave your product, be it a website or app.

A quality audit solves specific business goals and offers recommendations for improvements based on Jakob Nielsen's heuristics that are user-focused. Thanks to the audit, you can easily eliminate existing problems and this will positively affect the loyalty of users, their willingness to become your active client. Additionally, this will help you to strengthen your position in the market, since the simpler and more convenient the product is, the more likely it is that under the same conditions the client will use your offer.

Therefore, usability auditing allows you to find out why you have a low conversion rate, understand how to improve adoption, and also solve various problems that customers face when using your digital product.

After this audit, you can finally say: "We have identified this opportunity for improvement, so let's use this knowledge when we change the design."

UX audit will not only make your product convenient and attract more people but also save you money.

Why is it important?

Practically from the moment our company was founded, we have often ordered usability audits. In that period of 2010-2011, "usability" was only gaining popularity, and many thought that this was what they needed, and by ordering an audit of the user experience, their sales will immediately go up, and the site or mobile application will become more convenient and users will love them. This was especially prevalent among startups and small companies that were preparing to launch their product, and they reached out to us to make sure that their MVP is flawless and user-centered.

Indeed, after conducting a UX audit, their product has improved as it helps to understand the problem points that users are currently facing. Therefore, by solving these usability problems and removing barriers leading to the Goal, we achieve the required product effectiveness.

Who should perform a UX audit?

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Since audits provide a better understanding of who is using your product, you need to have confidence in the people you are letting them conduct those audits.

And who should conduct these audits? There is only one answer: it depends on the circumstances.

Auditing is very time-consuming, and many companies simply do not have the necessary resources, and therefore, in order to get the result quickly, it is best to hire a third party. In addition, third parties are more objective and emotionally less involved. They will really be able to look at your product with “new eyes”.

But, there are also positive aspects to doing it within the team. Your team has a deeper experience with your product or service. It also usually costs less. A quality audit is best done by UX designers, analysts, and sometimes also developers. When the whole team is in the same room, amazing things happen. You must also appoint a responsible decision maker. Select the person who will make the decisions so that he also participates in all stages of the audit and can confirm the final idea. You don't want all the ideas, even crazy ones, from your colleagues to come true, and for this you first need to appoint an experienced person who will make a decision on the implementation of the selected ideas. This person is usually a professional UX designer.

Do's and Don'ts for a UX Audit

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Before we go directly to the audit process, let's first figure out what to do and what not to do when conducting an audit to improve your user experience.

  • First of all, don't assume you know what users think. Try to determine the purpose and motivation of your users by conducting internal/anonymous UX surveys to identify user pain points.
  • Do not run usability tests yourself on your product. You need a fresh perspective on your site, and since you are so familiar with your product, this process can be ineffective. However, there are times when you have to do it yourself. 
  • Don't be biased: if you are an expert, then when conducting an audit, behave like a regular user, and not like an ideal superuser who knows immediately where to click to get to the goal. For example, you can click in different places, even those that seem illogical, try to immerse yourself in the experience of a regular user. Most importantly, don't forget to record your own screen.
  • Set a deadline: when testing, you can get carried away and spend too much time, or vice versa, set aside a little time. By setting the right deadline, you will get everything done within a reasonable time frame.
  • Audit your content: This can help identify inconsistencies and duplications.
  • Test with different network connection speeds to simulate what users are experiencing.
  • If you have a website and a mobile application, make sure that the style and logic of the user interface are the same in the ecosystem of your product.

6 tips for effective UX audit

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Check if you have everything you need for a UX audit. This usually requires:

  • Determination of the target audience. What are the goals of potential customers? How do users get into your product? What actions did they take? Research the target audience and find answers to these questions.
  • Are your current users your real target audience? Do you really have a clearly defined target audience? You should also have a clear understanding of whether your current users are target users.
  • Objectives are clearly defined and set. As with any project, you need to make sure you have a clear end goal and a description of what you want to achieve. For example: increase income by a certain amount, increase conversion to target values, and the like.
  • Team. Make sure you select really professional people to do the audit. Before you start, set a final goal for your whole team.
  • Deadlines. Set a deadline and make sure everything is going according to plan.
  • Budget. Do you have money for an audit? Especially if you want the audit to be done by other people. The cost can vary, and will mainly depend on how carefully you want to design your product.

What do you need for an audit?

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Once you have mastered the basics, it's time to briefly show you the process.

On a large scale, UX audit consists of five main stages:

  1. Collection of metrics and materials.
  2. Checking results, organizing data.
  3. Data analysis.
  4. Drawing up hypotheses for UX improvement.
  5. Making recommendations confirmed by research.

Collecting metrics and materials

This is one of the tricky parts of an audit and is difficult to handle alone, so you can get your team members involved. If you have correctly defined your goals before starting the audit, you will already understand what information you need to get, it remains to understand how you can get the information you need.

One useful source of the collection is Heuristic Evaluation: through which, you conduct a complete product analysis that will help you see your customer's pain points. Focus on identifying errors and record the findings.

The second, but no less important aspect is analytics. Heuristics offer qualitative data, but analytics can provide you with quantitative data about websites and mobile apps. Most people are probably aware of the basic features of Google Analytics such as trends over time and traffic flows. In addition, there are a few more advanced features that describe user interactions with the product, such as funnels and conversions, and you can also view user actions before and after visiting your site or app.

The third source is polls or user interviews with the target audience. The first thing you need to do is contact the product owner to inquire about the product's goals and current issues, and be sure to clarify what they want to see from the audit. You can also contact the sales and marketing department. Most likely, they will provide you with information about the users of the product, and then you will use that information in your audit.

How to organize the materials you collect

The easiest option is to write everything into spreadsheets. All information obtained in the first stage should be tracked on a sheet and combined. Use a cloud-based spreadsheet so you can share it to collaborate with others, and then together write usability hypotheses and ideas with related metrics.

Data analysis

It will not be easy to interpret the information received, since it is rather difficult, and a separate article can be written for it. But there are relatively simple techniques that can help you make sense of the information in front of you, such as through data mining, card sorting, and insight generation.

Drawing up hypotheses for UX improvement

After collecting the information you need, you can form hypotheses about the interaction between your service and the user. This will help you understand why users are behaving in a certain way and not the way you want them to.

You can map this knowledge against the following four principles that successful products use:

  • Timeliness: Does the website or app fix the user's problem?
  • Value Proposition: Is your value proposition clear and compelling?
  • Ease of Use: Are there places in the interface of your product that the user cannot understand, or do they intuitively understand how to interact with the interface?
  • Action: Are calls to action visible and relevant, and do they encourage users to take the action?

Making recommendations confirmed by research

Finally, you can write data-driven recommendations for improving UX. The main thing here is to give as relevant recommendations as possible.

Include in the audit:

  • Describe the positive aspects found
  • Write tactfully about the errors found
  • Write in simple and understandable language
  • Be as specific as possible, avoid abstract concepts and characteristics
  • Remember to supplement the guidelines with examples, rather than just identifying areas for general change.
  • Add processed video reports of product testing on real users.
  • Use concise presentation reports for stakeholders.

Recommended tools

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You can analyze, track, and optimize the performance of your product using services such as Amplitude, Kissmetrics, Appsflyer, Mixpanel, and some others. They are very useful and powerful as they take into account the entire user journey and also their behavior, both on the Internet and on mobile devices.

There is another useful tool - Hotjar. It creates heatmaps and is very easy to set up, once you start it you can start using it right away.

You can easily use these tools to track how users achieve their goals, such as buying, registering, etc. With these tools, you will receive information that will tell you which elements or sections of the user path to pay attention to.

Conclusion

By using audits exclusively, you will never achieve a comprehensive report as the user experience is constantly changing. So what are the benefits of UX auditing?

Most importantly, you will receive expert judgment on how your potential customers interact with your product. Based on analytics, user behavior, and key metrics of the site or application, the expert identifies UX drawbacks that are critical for conversion and creates a report with recommendations for their elimination.


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UX Audit, a step-by-step guide through which you will learn how to conduct a UX audit to improve your user experience.