In 2016, Instagram went through a design overhaul with a surprising result.
Fueled by new features and seamless mobile user experience, the social media platform doubled its user base in two years. User engagement and adoption further increased with the launch of “Stories,” the copy of a similar feature from Snapchat.
Such design overhauls should ideally be done after conducting a user experience audit.
What Is A UX Audit?
A user experience (UX) audit is a thorough, data-driven evaluation of an app's or a website's user experience. It enables organizations to assess design choices and discover areas of improvement. This ensures alignment of the design with user needs and expectations.
We must design for the way people behave, not for how we would wish them to behave.
― Donald A. Norman, Co-Founder, Nielsen Norman Group
Why Do Organizations Need A UX Audit
Conducting a UX audit helps organizations in:
Identifying Usability Issues
A UX audit helps identify gaps in usability, which also translates to better performance, customer engagement, and conversion rates.
For example, Amazon’s early stage website interface demonstrates everything that can go wrong with a website’s usability. This includes poor navigation, lack of familiarity, and visual clutter.
The latest version of the Amazon website is an eCommerce success story, offering a much more intuitive interface. It provides easy navigation and personalized recommendations via advanced algorithms. Seamless mobile optimization and a simplified checkout process enhance user experience, making the interface user-friendly for shoppers.
Enhancing User Satisfaction
A UX audit helps organizations identify design improvement scope by implementing major aspects of user delight. These include helpful error messages, legible text, and useful filters. Such elements make the experience seamless for the users and make them delighted. This enhances user engagement and boosts customer loyalty.
Reducing User Frustration
According to Delottie’s Milliseconds Make Millions report, websites taking longer than 10 seconds lead to frustrated users. A UX audit helps identify similar areas of frustration across the user journey for better design decisions.
The Yale School Of Art website is a classic example of bad navigation. The complex menus, visual clutter, and unclear pathways make navigating the site difficult for visitors.
A UX audit helps outline navigation issues. This streamlines the user journey, resulting in efficient content discovery and better conversions.
Identifying Accessibility Concerns
Accessibility is one of the integral parts of a great user experience. Without identifying and fixing accessibility issues early on, businesses may suffer losses. It may also lead to lawsuits. A UX audit helps organizations identify accessibility issues to comply with the regulations and reach a broader audience.
Enhancing Competitive Advantage
Statistics from PwC state that 59% of US customers will abandon a brand they love after several bad experiences. A UX audit helps organizations set the stage for better user experience and gain a competitive advantage.
For instance, the streaming app Netflix's dedication to a user-friendly interface and tailored content suggestions enhance the immersive streaming experience. This commitment to satisfying users and personalizing content has firmly established Netflix as a frontrunner in the fiercely competitive streaming industry.
How To Conduct A Basic UX Audit
Conducting a basic UX audit consists of the following steps.
Step 1: Understand The Business Goals
Before conducting a UX audit, comprehend the business objectives associated with the product. Align the evaluation with the organization's goals, like increasing sales, brand visibility, or user engagement. This will guide the audit process, helping bring the focus on areas that directly impact these goals.
Step 2: Understand User Behavior
A deep dive into the user's perspective is the second step of a UX audit. Understanding how users interact with the product and what they aim to accomplish provides context for the evaluation and helps identify the scope for improvement.
Using various analytical tools for user behavior is a popular option.
Tools such as Hotjar and Crazy Egg produce heatmaps that visually depict user clicks, movements, and time spent on a page. This visual information assists in identifying patterns, optimizing page layouts, and pinpointing elements that capture or divert user attention.
Session recording tools such as Mouseflow and SessionCam permit UX experts to observe live user sessions, reveal user challenges, highlight navigation issues, and showcase user interactions with specific features.
Step 3: Perform Heuristic Usability Evaluation
Heuristic Usability Evaluation involves assessing the product against established design principles, like Nielsen's 10 heuristic design principles. This step puts businesses in the user's shoes and evaluates the product from their perspective.
The following table provides steps to conduct a heuristic evaluation.
Select Heuristic Principles
Identify and choose established usability heuristics (e.g., Nielsen's 10 Usability Heuristics) to serve as evaluation criteria.
Define Evaluation Criteria
Clearly articulate specific criteria for each selected heuristic to guide the evaluation process.
Assemble a team of usability experts capable of impartially assessing the interface.
Conduct a briefing or training session to ensure evaluators understand the selected heuristics and their application.
Each evaluator independently reviews the interface against chosen heuristics, noting violations or areas for improvement.
Document instances where the interface deviates from heuristics, using screenshots, annotations, or notes. Detailed notes and screenshots are taken to document challenges and pain points encountered during this evaluation.
Assign severity ratings to identified issues based on their impact on user experience to prioritize improvements.
Collect and consolidate findings to create a comprehensive report detailing usability issues and their severity.
Convene a debriefing session with evaluators to discuss findings, share insights, and address discrepancies.
Prioritize recommendations based on issue severity and potential impact on user experience. The heuristic evaluation process is iterative, with multiple rounds of assessment and improvement cycles to refine the interface.
Generate Actionable Insights
Transform evaluation findings into actionable insights, providing clear recommendations for interface improvement.
Step 4: Compile Findings And Make The Report
After the audit, findings from the heuristic evaluation and any data analysis are compiled into a comprehensive report. This report outlines the identified issues, categorizes them based on severity, and provides actionable recommendations for improvement. Accessibility concerns are also highlighted, along with suggestions for addressing these concerns.
Challenges In Conducting A UX Audit
Before diving into a UX audit, it is important to note three of the most common challenges faced by organizations.
The main challenge in a UX audit is setting clear project boundaries. A UX audit examines various aspects like functionality, usability, and aesthetics. But trying to uncover everything can be overwhelming. This can result in many findings that may not be practical.
To prevent this, clearly defining the audit's purpose, goals, and deliverables is crucial. Involve stakeholders, set realistic expectations and deadlines, and prioritize addressing crucial issues and opportunities. For instance, on an ecommerce website, instead of evaluating all website features, focus on improving one critical feature, such as the checkout process.
Resistance To Change
A UX audit might propose changes demanding substantial resources, time, or effort. Some stakeholders or users might resist adopting these changes, driven by the fear of failure, lack of trust, misunderstandings, and technical hurdles.
Organizations can mitigate this challenge by engaging different departments in the UX audit process to bring diverse perspectives and expertise to the evaluation. It's also recommended to conduct workshops, courses, and training sessions on fundamental UX principles and best practices for the teams.
Gated Properties And Restricted Access
Restricted access in gated properties, marked by credential limitations, can disrupt digital workflows. It prevents teams from accessing specific areas of a website or app during a UX audit.
For example, a delay in accessing critical content leads to delays, miscommunications, and frustration. The solution is to take UX audits as an iterative process, as this equips teams with more time to deal with gated properties and restricted access.
How Axelerant Helped Implement Red Hat’s UX Audit
Red Hat wanted to offer a fresh learning journey for developers, driven by seamless user experience. They approached Axelerant with two key challenges:
- Restructuring the information architecture on the website for seamless user journeys
- Creating a roadmap for the portal’s business objectives through design
Backed by the Design Thinking and How Might We frameworks, the approach ensured that the portal would be able to solve user problems. It included a usability audit, information architecture and navigation redesign, and website redesign.
This led to a more engaging developer portal with enhanced user experience.
A UX audit paves the way to frictionless user experience regardless of your organization’s scale. Not sure where to start? Talk to our experts and learn more.
Dheeraj Khindri, Director of Experience Design
A pragmatic soul and cinema enthusiast who enjoys larger-than-life films—that’s Dheeraj. In his free time, he explores all things poetry, solo guitar sessions, and binge-worthy web series. His life’s essential values? Empathy, autonomy, and pragmatism.
Sucheta Biswas, Marketing Coordinator
Nicknamed “Monica” for her culinary prowess and tidiness, Sucheta is an intriguing omnivert. Books are her cherished companions, complemented by nature walks and wildlife photography. She’s also a practicing Yogi who loves all things art.