How to conduct a UX Audit in Simple Steps

User eXperience Audit of the website involves checking the website/computer application for the expectations and needs of website users.

The usability analysis checks the adaptation of the website as well as users’ habits, readability, clarity of message and compliance with trends. The effect of the UX audit should be to learn about the strengths and weaknesses. The audit also identifies risks and potential opportunities.

 

Areas that should include UX / UI audit:

  • website / application views: readability,
  • website structure: navigation, home page, subpages,
  • clarity of the information provided
  • website usability: forms, contact, product pages, categories, information pages,

 

UX audit includes:

  • Tests with users. A survey is held with selected users who check the website on your behalf and under your supervision. After the survey, they fill out a questionnaire and write their comments. Tests of this type can be moderated (precisely conducted by a UX expert) or unmoderated (e.g. the teacher does not affect the user’s choices).
  • Heat map examination and eye-tracking. Heat maps are places where website visitors click. They can be checked using popular programmes, e.g. Hotjar. Eye-tracking is a research method that checks the movement of the knobs while using the website. This way you can see which elements are eye-catching and which are not.
  • Surveys, tests and interviews.

 

Research methods of the UX audit

The audit should be carried out by an experienced UX / UI expert who most often uses the following research methods:

  • heuristic analysis
  • cognitive walkthrough
  • checklist (usability checklist)

 

Heuristic analysis in UX

Heuristic evaluation means checking websites in terms of heuristics, i.e. a set of rules and guidelines that have been previously collected and described.

 

10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design of Nielsen and Molich

  • Visibility of system status – The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.
  • Match between system and the real world – The system should speak the users’ language
  • User control and freedom – Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly
  • Consistency and standards – Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing
  • Error prevention -Even better than good error messages is a careful design that prevents a problem from occurring in the first place
  • Recognition rather than recall – Minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible
  • Flexibility and efficiency of use
  • Aesthetic and minimalist design
  • Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
  • Help and documentation

 

Shneiderman’s 8 Golden Rules of Interface Design

  1. Strive for consistency.

Consistent sequences of actions should be required in similar situations; identical terminology should be used in prompts, menus, and help screens; and consistent commands should be employed throughout.

  1. Enable frequent users to use shortcuts.

As the frequency of use increases, so do the user’s desires to reduce the number of interactions and to increase the pace of interaction. Abbreviations, function keys, hidden commands, and macro facilities are very helpful to an expert user.

  1. Offer informative feedback.

For every operator action, there should be some system feedback. For frequent and minor actions, the response can be modest, while for infrequent and major actions, the response should be more substantial.

  1. Design dialog to yield closure.

Sequences of actions should be organized into groups with a beginning, middle, and end. The informative feedback at the completion of a group of actions gives the operators the satisfaction of accomplishment, a sense of relief, the signal to drop contingency plans and options from their minds, and an indication that the way is clear to prepare for the next group of actions.

  1. Offer simple error handling.

As much as possible, design the system so the user cannot make a serious error. If an error is made, the system should be able to detect the error and offer simple, comprehensible mechanisms for handling the error.

  1. Permit easy reversal of actions.

This feature relieves anxiety since the user knows that errors can be undone; it thus encourages exploration of unfamiliar options. The units of reversibility may be a single action, a data entry, or a complete group of actions.

  1. Support internal locus of control.

Experienced operators strongly desire the sense that they are in charge of the system and that the system responds to their actions. Design the system to make users the initiators of actions rather than the responders.

  1. Reduce short-term memory load.

The limitation of human information processing in short-term memory requires that displays be kept simple, multiple page displays be consolidated, window-motion frequency be reduced, and sufficient training time be allotted for codes, mnemonics, and sequences of actions.

 

Cognitive wandering (cognitive walkthrough)

A UX audit using the cognitive method involves verifying and testing the usability of the website from the point of view of new users. The method assumes that new users will learn about services by testing and checking the functionality and subsequent elements of the page.

The UX expert conducting the UX audit takes on the role of a new user and tests subsequent elements of the website/application. They create a fake scenario of the customer’s path and in the case of large websites divides the task into parts.

 

Usability checklist

The checklist includes a set of items to be sure that the UX expert verifies when creating the audit. Usually, a list like this is divided into the following categories:

Website homepage:

  • First impression, clarity of the message (whether it is understood by everyone), whether logged in users see their name, changes on the site are communicated, visibility of information about the company and contact, privacy policy and regulations, all regional legal regulations are clearly defined (e.g. in Europe RODO), photos and video are in the right format (e.g. they are not with watermarks and they are optimized).

 

Website Usability:

  • Simple and understandable registration on the site, password recovery, logging in and logging out, legible and easy to use forms (registration, data, payments, contact).
  • The service in every element inspires trust and the information provided is reliable: information about the company, contact, opinions, guarantees, service, references, payments, data security.
  • The website is responsive, views are adapted to current needs and trends.
  • Elements such as: currency, country, language, taxes, delivery tailored to website users (e.g. for multinational websites, matching of displayed data by visitors’ IP is checked).
  • Prices and costs are presented in a clear and precise manner and do not cause any doubt for buyers. The transparency of payment and delivery is the foundation of every online store.
  • The views are clear and the products shown are shown accurately and in detail. For example, the possibility of enlarging photos and viewing products from different sides is being verified.
  • Clarity of the message.
  • The colors and font used are legible and of the right size, the colors are consistent and have the right contrast.
  • The texts are legible, written to the user’s requirements, and are written in the language of the recipient.
  • Friendly navigation, with the possibility of using both mouse, keyboard and shortcuts.
  • Checkboxes, listings, links on the website buttons are easy to use and visible.

 

Site navigation

  • Important items are visible to users.
  • Filtering and sorting by the most important elements (price, quantity, popularity)
  • Navigation is consistent and clearly divided into categories.
  • Clickable links clearly described.
  • Breadcrumbs are implemented.
  • Search on the site
  • The search box is prominent.
  • Searching is possible on every page of the website.
  • The search field is large enough to enter data.

 

Links on the site

  • Important messages are visible and legible (e.g. pay, buy, cart, contact)
  • Links are different from other elements (e.g. colour).
  • All links work.

 

Views (layout)

  • The most important elements are presented first.
  • The site is responsive and works on all devices.
  • Related information/data is grouped.
  • There is no intrusive advertising.
  • Site views are consistent and similar for related pages (e.g. categories, product pages).
  • The pages are legible, clear and not overloaded with distracting elements.

 

Errors on the site

  • The website works and opens in every browser.
  • Test on users.
  • The website has dedicated pages for 404 and 500 errors.
  • The website has an SSL certificate implemented that works well.

 

Forms

  • Clear and legible. Easy to use and complete.
  • The forms are completed by a well-known term, e.g. address, first name, last name, etc.
  • Information about errors in completing the form are shown just below the field.

 

Content and media

  • The content is readable, tailored to the expectations of visitors.
  • The contrast between the background and text is to a good standard and photos are adequate.
  • Paragraphs, comprehensive descriptions, listings, photos.
  • The content is written intelligible to readers and up-to-date.

 

UX audit step by step

UX research is not only knowledge but also tools and methods of conduct. Such as:

  • Conversations with decision-makers – talk to important people from the client’s company to learn more about the business requirements.
  • Workshops – gather a group of the most important people from the client’s company to discuss the project summary and prepare exercises to better understand the project. You can also use the workshops to choose the best user experience project.
  • “Guerrilla” usability tests – if you have little money available, use this type of usability testing. Thanks to this, you will engage users and quickly get feedback on the product.
  • Laboratory usability tests – by engaging users in the design process, you will better understand their needs. In a controlled environment so you will be able to see how users operate the products.
  • Remote usability tests – you conduct tests outside the client’s premises. Sometimes the geographical dispersion of users, time or other reasons do not allow research to be carried out in one place.
  • Competition analysis – competition studies allow you to assess size, strengths and weaknesses of the products offered. This is an amazing opportunity for the company, you can take advantage of the competitor’s weaknesses and strengthen your product.
  • Contextual research – you conduct research in the environment in which users most often use the product. In this way you will better understand users’ behaviour and identify any problems faster.
  • Analyses – any analysis will help you better understand users. Maybe some interesting user behaviour will be detected? All information gained can be extremely valuable.
  • Surveys – the best way to reach a large number of people with lots of questions. Surveys allow you to determine many facts (gender, age, place of residence, etc.) and help you better understand their behaviour.
  • Expert assessments – a quick way to evaluate an existing product. The assessment is made on the basis of usability, target group and tasks guidelines.
  • Task models – using task models you will ensure that the product meets the customer’s expectations.
  • Customer behaviour maps – you present them graphically. The maps show all the paths that the customer can take before, during and after the purchase or service.
  • Persons – who is your product or service intended for? Create a real person – a representative from each group of potential clients. Who is this person and what do they do? Focus on the client’s real needs, emotions and expectations. Define their problems, concerns and goals.
  • User paths – specify how users use the product.
  • Information architecture – organize all information.
  • Sketches – sketch design ideas, e.g. by hand on a piece of paper.
  • Skeletons – create skeletons that show content, navigation, and interaction.
  • Prototypes – show ideas in an interactive form so you can get feedback on them.

Report after the audit

The UX audit should end with a report including recommendations and bullet points for improvement. The breakdown of errors in the report should be as follows:

Critical errors – you should immediately proceed to repair errors of this type as they have a significant impact on the functioning of the website.

Medium errors – to be corrected after critical errors. These are also important and must be included in the schedule of corrective changes.

Basic errors – so-called minor errors that can be repaired but do not have a significant impact on the functioning of the website.

 

Pointed mistakes are good to divide into types: logical, visual, navigational, communicative, interaction. Thanks to the good distribution, it will be easier to assign repairs to specific teams. For example, visual errors can be passed on to graphics, structure errors to an SEO specialist and IT department.

 

A good UX audit should combine data:

  • Quantitative data that we download from converging analytical programs, e.g. Google Analytics,
  • Qualitative is data collected directly from users: interviews, surveys, eye tracking (eye tracking when using the website using special equipment and software), ab tests, first impressions test.

 

Benefits of conducting a UX audit

The purpose of the UX audit is to improve the website’s condition and adapt it to the requirements and needs of users. As a result of the audit, we should know:

  1. The weaknesses and strengths of the website.

Weaknesses are especially important from the point of view of running a business. The repair list and proposed changes as well as the assessment of the website’s condition must be included in each report after the usability test.

  1. Hypotheses and possible development paths.

In addition to listing errors for repair, UX audit should suggest further paths of website development. Suggestions for the future and hypothetical change scenarios help management in business decisions.

 

See also:

How to Improve Your Conversion Rate

 

The most common errors reported in the UX audit:

  • Fancy product names, menus that are not intuitive or rarely used on the web.
  • Forms that are too complex, containing unnecessary fields.
  • Shoulder sorting and flirting options.
  • Very poor product description, no information on final costs.
  • Vague presentation of the conditions of sale, delivery, and payment.
  • The site is not responsive and has optimization errors (loading time, not displayed in all browsers).

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