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UX Audits made simple

A lot of us have come to a point where we have a product website or application that for some reason is not giving the results we expected, but, what would be the problem? Is the design not attractive to users? Are the users finding what they are looking for? And if they do, can they finish the whole process without any problem?

This and many other questions can come to our mind but it would be hard to get a more appropriate answer without doing a UX Audit that gives us enough information to try to improve the goal you are looking for.

 

Making a UX audit may sound like a very complicated task, but there's a way to make this approach simpler. There are 5 parts of conducting a UX Audit that will help us through this process. But the very first thing you need to do is ask this question:

 

What does success really mean...

  • to users?

  • to the business/stakeholders?


How does each element contribute to that success?

 

Remember, we are not only looking to help users, but we also have to help businesses to deliver value so they will have a reason to invest in improving it.

 

Answering these questions will give us a guide and a goal to follow during the next steps.

The 5 parts 

  1. Uncover goals + intended outcomes

  2. Review existing analytics

  3. Review the core interaction states

  4. Review product UX heuristics 

  5. Deliver findings + recommendations

Uncover goals + intended outcomes

Most common business goals will fall into these categories 

 

Business goals 

  • Increased sales/revenue

  • Increased retention

  • Cut costs


But to make these goals real legitimate we need to have the following components:

 

Legitimate business goals

  • Specific desired outcome

  • Measurable

  • Achievable 


Any goal on the list of improvements needs to have these components, otherwise, you will be guessing on what to achieve and as a result, you will get poor results.

 

User goals

  • Who do you talk to if you can't talk to users?

    • Customer service manager

    • Customer representative/agent 

    • Sales reps/Account executives


The information you gather should be enough to guide you in the right direction. Make sure to build user personas or use other techniques to guide your efforts as well.

Review Existing Analytics 

Before getting into the data, let’s remember these recommendations first: 

  • Don't rely too heavily on KPI’S

  • The metric can become the goal instead of the user 

  • Over-reliance on metrics can be dangerous

 

The user experience should be the main focus of employees, working too hard on reaching the metric could affect the value we give to the user and it could impede getting the users’ loyalty and keeping them happy.

 

Now let’s take a look at some numbers we can use to help the evaluation process:


  1. Google analytics

    1. Completion rate

    2. Analytics doesn’t give you answers, they tell you where to look

  2. Form abandonment

  3. Drop off points 

  4. Time on page or task

  5. Search queries

  6. Error messages 

  7. Mobile vs desktop metrics

  8. Unpopular screens  

Review the Core Interaction States

When you are auditing a site, application, or system of any kind you need to consider 3 states that the user will see on screen

  1. Blank state

    1. The very first thing the user sees when they launch or login into a site or application

  2. Working state

    1. What people see and interact with during the normal course of the use

  3. Error state

    1. What people see when something goes wrong

 

As we evaluate these states of interaction we need to do it following these 5 core categories:

 

5 categories of evaluation

  1. Language

  2. Priority

  3. Universality

  4. Visual clarity

  5. Problems

 

A- Blank state

 

These are some of the most common questions user does and that we have to keep in mind:

  • What is this?

  • Is it what I expected?

  • Does it look credible? 

  • Does it look valuable?

  • What action can I take?

 

B- Work state


There are 4 principal elements that you need to keep in mind when evaluating the work state:

  1. Control: Users should have a certain level of control over the experience. 

  2. Consistency: The visual design should be consistent

  3. Context: Every instance of available interactivity has to have context.

  4. Corroboration: The interactivity should reflect the nature of the content.

 

In addition to this, we need to evaluate the following principles of any solid usability, user interface, and user experience


  1. Predictability: People should be able to predict the outcome of their actions.

  2. Consistency: Visual representations should match what the user already knows how to do.

  3. Progression: Everything in the UI should progress from simple to complex.

  4. Natural constraints: The system should be designed to minimize potential errors.

  5. Visibility, Hierarchy + Visual Clarity: Interactive elements should be visible and their function should be obvious. 

  6. Flexibility: Does the UI support both novice and expert? 

  7. Feedback: The UI should provide the user the following information:

    1. Location (Where am I?)

    2. Current status (What’s happening?)

    3. Future status (What will happen next?)

    4. Outcome + Results (What just happened?)

 

C- Error state


There are 3 common errors situations when it comes to evaluating a system or software:


  1. The app doesn't understand the users’ inputs or actions.

  2. The app fails to complete an expected action.

  3. The user isn't made aware of what the app is currently doing or has already done.

 

Now you have enough information to start working on a UX Audit. Remember that all the projects and businesses are different and these concepts are not rules that apply to every situation, try to work on whatever works for you and make the changes you consider.


Gerardo B.

Experienced Web UI/UX Designer, passionate about learning something new every day. Has ranked legendary on all Call of Duty seasons and loves to discover music and movies.

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