A QUICK SUMMARY – FOR THE BUSY ONES
UX audit is a process of reviewing an app to identify the areas of concern and collect valuable data points needed to improve the product’s performance. Since all the issues are prioritized, you get an actionable roadmap to improving your product quickly and efficiently.
A UX audit can be condensed into 6 steps. However, before you start the process, some data needs to be gathered.
Before you begin:
This 6-step process is adjusted to people with little design-related knowledge, who would like to find out why their conversion dropped, churn rate raised, and/or their app started to receive a lot of bad reviews, using a time and money-efficient manner. Check how to conduct a UX audit in 6 steps:
Step 1: Analyze customer journeys and define user goals – how users navigate through your app? What are they trying to achieve? Write out in details each path users take in your app along with the goals the want to achieve.
Step 2: Choose our method of evaluation (we recommend Nielsen heuristics for starters).
Step 3: Analyze each screen in the app and look for potential pain points:
Pay attention to things like unclear next steps, strange icons, no ability to turn back to the previous step.
Step 4: Analyze the severity of the issues you’ve found and prioritize them from the ones that highly affect your conversion rate.
Step 5: Conduct user interviews – it’s good to check your assumptions with real users.
Step 6: Compile your findings into an actionable plan.
Next steps: Consult your findings with someone who's unbiased.
Below, we explain Nielsen heuristics in a more detailed manner and provide a checklist of things to pay attention at while performing a UX audit.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
If users are often dropping off your app or you see that they don’t complete actions, it’s time to take a closer look at:
The quickest and most affordable way to do it is to conduct a UX audit.
A UX audit, along with heuristic evaluation, allows you for spotting these pain points easily. It can be done by professional designers, but you can also go through it on your own.
A UX audit can be conducted in 5 days. To make it easier for you to follow the process by yourself, we divided it into 6 small steps.
Time to track down the opportunities.
A UX audit – or usability audit – is a process of reviewing an existing digital product to identify areas of concern in order to improve its User Experience. A UX audit helps to spot various pain points in the app. It can also help designers identify potential business value opportunities.
During an audit, you can collect valuable data points to improve the product's performance.
A UX audit gives you answers that can be quickly transformed into solutions. When a product is not performing as expected, it’s a good way to start the quest for reasons.
Inconsistencies and pain points in the app can be found in as little as 5 days. You get the answers on why your churn rate is high and get a list of issues – prioritized by their harmfulness, from the ones that highly affect conversion rate.
It’s an actionable improvement roadmap you can use right away to improve your product and raise the conversion rate.
Bad design can be costly – you end up losing users and money. Companies that invest in UX have lower costs of customer acquisition and support – good design is friendly, simple, and intuitive. In this light, a UX audit constitutes a relatively inexpensive solution to a pricey problem.
After conducting an audit, you will also see a few other benefits:
There is no versatile plan for a UX audit, and every company does it a little differently.
We’ve established the process for people with little design-related knowledge and divided it into seven steps, so you can follow it one step at a time.
Before starting the audit, you need to prepare a few things:
For a bigger audit (e.g. with an external provider) you will also need to:
When you do an audit by yourself, some of this information may not be available. It doesn’t mean the outcomes are not valid – it just means there are still some unknowns to confirm and double-check before redesigning anything or doing some major changes. But at least you’ll have a roadmap of potential troubling areas in the app, that may require fixing and focusing in the first place.
It’s an additional step during the preparations phase that can make an audit a lot easier and more profitable.
More and more businesses track the performance of their digital products, and if you don’t yet, that’s probably your point to start. This data is priceless while performing a usability audit.
Having metrics for your product provides indisputable data about users and success. In the future, it will help you track progress and even calculate ROI for UX improvements.
If enough information is gathered to establish trends in how the product is used over time, it brings light to why the product doesn’t bring expected results. You can find out if:
You need to have a clear understanding of who your users are, and with that knowledge in mind, investigate your app looking for user goals.
Divide the process into 3 smaller steps:
It gives you an overview and raises your awareness about the places where friction can appear. These spots can make users frustrated because that’s where they make mistakes or even entirely drop off using the app.
There are a lot of evaluation methods and with time it would be good to create your own, fitting your product and market. For starters, it will be sufficient to use Nielsen heuristics. They are simply the best practices of design and constitute a common basis for all digital products.
Heuristics are a starting point of each evaluation method but for many projects they are divided into more details or create a basis for a customized checklist.
Advantages of heuristics:
Generally, heuristics are the best choice if you:
Heuristics will undoubtedly reveal all the major problems in your digital product if there are any.
There are 10 Nielsen heuristics. During the audit, the interface’s compliance with these usability principles is judged and evaluated.
Don’t worry – in the next step, we explain what to pay attention to while analyzing each screen to find non-compliance with each one of the heuristics.
The easiest way to do the analysis is to study each screen looking for non-compliance with each heuristic, or any confusion or bug at all.
How to do that?
Carefully click through each path a user can take in your app. Get into your user’s shoes. Look at each screen and each step a user takes.
You can take a screenshot of each view and note all the things that seem confusing or wrong. Check each screen from the perspective of Nielsen heuristics. If you find confusion that’s not written there, it’s also a valuable observation – write it down.
Confront each error and confusion you’ve found with the list of heuristics. It’s not that one error violates only one heuristic, it can violate more. Confronting each error with the list of heuristics and noting each of them is violated in a particular case will help you to create an action plan later on.
Pay attention to things like:
Bugs that should alert you:
To be able to prioritize your next steps after a UX audit, you need to analyze the severity of issues you’ve found.
We propose dividing errors into 3 categories:
Specifying the severity of errors allows you to prioritize the amendments and get started with the ones that decrease conversion rate.
When we have potential critical places in the app already targeted by heuristic evaluation, it’s good to have it confirmed with the users. It could be unmoderated usability testing or interviews, anything to double-check the severity of problems.
It’s a good practice to combine moderated testing with interviews, because it gives the most insight and allows you to spot issues you would not think about.
Once the data from all the resources have been gathered, it should be analyzed and compiled into a report. This document will cover where users run into difficulties, which problems are the most important to solve, and which heuristics they violate.
A report serves as an action plan you can then deliver to your team (or an external provider). Also, the report itself constitutes a good ground to plan usability testing.
It wouldn't be a good idea to pass your findings directly to your development team. Remember, that you can be a little biased. After conducting a UX audit, it's recommended to consult your findings with an external designer or a designer from your company who isn't involved in work on this particular product (it could create bias).
That way, your next steps after gathering the findings, are:
<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>If you need someone to consult your discoveries, our designers are ready to help. Just let us know.</p></span>
When conducted by a professional UX designer, a UX audit should give you a comprehensive review of your product and information on which areas it does or doesn’t perform well. Major areas that are covered by the audit are:
A professional UX audit is a detailed document with actionable recommendations. Each problem a designer spotts in your app is carefully analyzed, explained, and there’s a recommended solution with an explanation. All the pain points are prioritized from the ones that seriously decrease your conversion rate. Designers also highlight what’s good in your app, so you could make the reference. A professional UX audit is an action plan you can use right away.
<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>You receive a document that covers where users run into difficulties and recommendations what may be done about that. Those actionable improvements help to meet business and user objectives.</p></span>
A UX audit made by a professional in its minimal form takes 5 days. It can take up to a month in case of more in-depth research with usability testing included. It can be done by a freelancer or, for example, a design team from a web development company.
Your UX audit won’t be as thorough, but it doesn’t mean it won’t bring you value. Following the steps described in this article, you can spot problem areas within a few days.
After carefully analyzing the checklist of errors to look for, you will be able to spot pain points in your app.
A UX audit made by yourself is a quick way to go.
Note: it’s worth remembering that audits shouldn’t be done by the team working on a project. They are familiar with it already and may be biased. So it's not recommended to consult your findings with the team that works on this particular project. Simultaneously, remember that the assumptions should be consulted with some designer.
<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>Do an audit by yourself – after empathizing with users and focusing on their journey through your app you will undoubtedly spot major pain points.</p></span>
<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>A better option will be to use the services of a professional UX designer or a company that provides UX audit services (if you need, along with designers to hire and make improvements in your app).</p></span>
During the lifecycle of your product there are some good moments to find some time for an audit:
Potential red flags:
The product has been on the market for some time, it doesn’t bring expected results or suddenly stopped bringing revenue. An audit will help you catch problem areas, prioritize them, and plan for future improvements.
New designers don’t know the product yet and haven’t spent hours working on it, so they are also not biased. You should take advantage of that. A fresh eye can catch the errors others missed just because they are too familiar with the product.
It’s just a rule of thumb to do a holistic review once in a while, and check if everything fits together well. Maybe there’s been some changes in style and you missed those? Or you added a new feature that tweaked the flow and now it’s confusing for the users? Maybe a major release is coming, your developers are focused on bug fixes and designers have some spare time?
A good user experience audit is a vital part of any business's success. It’s important to conduct it once in a while to review the flow and consistency of a digital product. It can help identify areas of concern and improve the way that your product is serving its users.
UX audit is the quickest, budget-friendly tool to prevent user leaks in uncertain times. If you need a hand with conducting it, check our offer.
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Software development enthusiast with 6 years of professional experience in the tech industry.
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