Do you run your online store and monitor user behavior from time to time? Does it happen that some of them view your products, add them to the cart, but do not complete the transaction? Or maybe it turns out that after entering a given product category, they immediately leave the site? Wondering why is this happening? Analyze the entire page to find the source of the problem. From its appearance, through the posted content, to the way of making purchases. It is also worth considering what pleases your customers in addition to the products they are looking for. How to find it out? Get to know our guide to UX audit and learn how to develop the potential of your website thanks to it!
User Experience Audit
UX audit provides answers to many questions bothering e-commerce owners. It is a way of identifying parts of your website or application that are not very suitable for your audience and that cause them dissatisfaction or frustration what results in no conversion. As in the case of financial audits, User Experience auditing uses various empirical methods to help improve existing functions by offering heuristic-based recommendations for user-oriented improvements. The overriding goal of the audit is to find a way to increase conversion by making it easier for users to achieve their intended goal, e.g. making purchases in your online store.
Activities that occur during the UX audit
What happens when conducting a UX audit and how does it relate to usability testing? Various methods, tools, and indicators are used in performing audit activities to analyze exactly what the problem is or should not change. The following are taken into account:
Review of the business goals and goals of website users.
- Checking your conversion rate.
- Knowing about customer service data.
- Checking sales data.
- Verification of the customers' path to purchase and their engagement.
- Comparing the compliance of current standards with UX standards.
- The use of usability heuristics.
- Mental modeling.
- Modeling and prototyping.
- Implementation of UX best practices.
What is the difference between usability testing and UX audit? It is primarily the direction of information flow. An audit reveals problems that arise due to non-compliance with a set of predetermined standards or goals. Testing, on the other hand, draws the problems associated with user-driven activities. During the audit, you can use the usability test if you do not have access to basic indicators. However, you should combine the results with data collected over the long term and compare with industry standards and the goals of the product (website) itself.
What will you learn from a UX audit and what are its limitations?
First of all, remember that an audit is not a cure for all evil and will not solve all User Experience problems related to a website or application. First of all, it won't change anything if, after carrying it out, you don't make the appropriate recommendations. Moreover, if the audit is conducted by an internal team, it can turn out to be an extremely time- and labor-intensive task.
However, despite this, the UX audit will certainly help you answer many questions that are very important for the proper functioning of your website. So it will help you determine:
- What works and what doesn't.
- What data do you collect and what data you should collect.
- What the collected data says about your users.
- What actions have already been tried and how they have affected your conversion rate.
A properly conducted UX audit will bring many benefits to your product. It will guarantee the ability to perform appropriate tasks, confirmed by reliable empirical evidence, and not only by what seems to be effective. It will help to create a strategic design plan. It will give you metrics that you can use in future fixes. It can help you form hypotheses about why users behave in a certain way and how they might behave in the future. And most of all, the UX audit will help you increase your conversion and ROI after implementing the actions listed in it.
Who and when should conduct a UX audit?
Is there really a good time to conduct a UX audit? It turns out that the answer is: yes! The audit should be carried out at the very beginning of the operation or redesign of the website or application (Tim Broadwater's principle). So it is carried out on a product or service that has been around for some time and has some areas to be explored. New pages or features are more often tested for usability than fully audited.
Who should conduct the audit? If you have your own department or UX team, these people can take care of it. Thanks to a systematic audit, they will be able to effectively implement optimal solutions. And using a wide range of tools, they will conduct an objective control process. However, if you do not have such specialists in your company's structures or you have a large budget, use external services. Auditors from another company will look at your product with a distance and it will certainly be easier for them to pinpoint malfunctioning areas without being emotionally involved in the product.
What do you need to conduct a UX audit?
In order to conduct an audit reliably, it is worth using the knowledge of many specialists - designers, programmers, product strategists and business managers. In order for the process to run consistently and in an organized manner, a leader of the audit team should be appointed.
As with other projects, several things need to be agreed right from the start:
- audit objectives (conversion, ROI, etc.),
- the time limit during which the audit will last,
- how many and what resources do you want to devote to the audit: time, money, manpower, etc.
What does the UX audit look like?
UX audit is primarily a process. It consists of 6 main steps: collecting data (indicators) and materials, validating results, organizing data, reviewing trends and trends, reporting findings, and creating evidence-based recommendations for changes.
Collection of data (indicators) and materials
The first stage is often the most difficult stage of a UX audit. However, if you correctly define its purpose at the outset, you will know what kind of information you need. You just have to think which data will provide it to you. To do this, engage team members to share and share relevant information, and to keep track of useful data that you do not currently have.
Validate the results
Below you will find selected sources of data and materials that will help you validate the data during the audit.
Heuristic product evaluation - make a cognitive guide on the product (your website or application) to see it from the customer's perspective. Take notes as you try to achieve your users' goals. Focus on identifying potential obstacles. However, remember that knowing your product will make this task difficult for you. However, basing the entire process on established criteria, such as Nielsen's heuristics, will help you focus on the most important issues.
Web Analytics - Heuristic Assessment provides qualitative data, one also needs quantitative data to get the full picture. For this reason, use analytical tools, such as Google Analytics. Thanks to it, you can check the traffic on the website, its intensity, trends over time and other more advanced parameters. You will also notice some user trends, e.g. what users do before and after they leave your site and at what point they stop browsing (bounce rate). If your website is e-commerce, your sales data is very important in a UX audit.
Kissmetrics and Crazy Egg are also useful tools. They will complement basic analytical data with functions such as heatmaps and churn rates. Remember that when analyzing trends on the site, you have to go back far enough to actually identify them, and not just analyze isolated data points.
Interviews or User Surveys - As with any UX activity, you need to approach your users to discover their real needs. Start by talking - interviewing internal product stakeholders such as other owners or developers, asking them about the product plan, requirements and current development challenges. You can also ask what they expect from the UX audit itself. Also, find out if your marketing or sales department has ever conducted user surveys. You can extract a lot of relevant information from them.
Burning Product Requirements - Checking the original application requirements will save you time and help you understand why the tool was made the way it was.
At this initial stage of the audit, you can verify the qualitative data collected through usability testing. For example, if previous surveys have shown that the customer unregistration process was too complex, run usability testing to see if you can back up this unsupported process.
Organization of data
Of course, it's best in spreadsheets. All data must be properly collected, sorted and tracked. Remember to upload your spreadsheet to the cloud and share it with other interested colleagues. Write down all your questions and ideas with the appropriate indicators. If you're not sure what to put in a spreadsheet, use the templates available to help you organize your data.
Overview of trends and trends
The moment when you need to transform the collected data into meaningful data and indicators requires a professional approach and unfortunately cannot be described in a few steps. However, there are methods that can help you understand the information available, such as data mining, card sorting (not only good for UX architects but also for aggregating large amounts of data), and insight incubation. You must read them carefully to be able to use them freely.
After analyzing and reviewing the data, it's time to formulate hypotheses about the user's experience on the website or in the application. It answers the questions of why users behave the way they do, not the way you want them to. Compare the collected information with the following key elements of well-made products:
- Relevance - is the website or app responding to the user's query? How well does it work? Is there a discrepancy between expectations and reality when contacting the product?
- Value Proposition: Is the value of the product for the user clear and compelling?
- Usability: are there any ambiguities or uncertainties in the website / application interface? Do users intuitively know what to do?
- Action: Are the calls to action (CTAs) visible, relevant, and do they actually encourage users to take action?
- Creating recommendations for changes to be implemented, supported by evidence
In the last step, make recommendations for UI improvements based on hard data. The most important thing is that they are the best suited and possible to be made in terms of a given product. It is worth using the hints - by Joseph Dumas, Rolf Molich and Robin Jeffries - "Describing Usability Problems: are we sending the right message?"
Also remember about:
- highlighting the positives,
- tactful expression of dissatisfaction,
- avoiding usability jargon,
- being specific.
Also bear in mind that the recommendations are supplemented with the most substantive and specific examples. After all, it is not only about indicating areas and general changes that are worth introducing. Specifically, show that, for example, on a page in a menu, images should be removed, or the order in which categories appear, etc. Suggesting precise solutions will help the design team implement changes quickly.
The basic set needed by the UX auditor
The set of tools that you will use during the audit depends on the product you want to control and the final goals. However, you can use the tips below to get you equipped with most of the things you need.
- Advanced analytical tools: Omniture or Kissmetrics.
- Usability Testing Software: User Testing.
- Jakob Nielsen's usability heuristics.
- Web application heuristics (template from RIA).
- ISO rules.
UX audit requires a lot of commitment on the part of many people working on the product on a daily basis. So remember that it is always worth consulting an outsider for this. Not only because of the time saving, but above all because of the impartial approach of a third party, not related to the product in any way. This solution will provide you with the best improvement of your website or application, especially if the conversions are standing still or are increasing very slowly, and the users' voice has not been taken into account very carefully so far. Thanks to the UX audit, you can introduce significant changes in the functioning of your website. They will be based on reliable data, therefore they will certainly contribute to the increase of user satisfaction and your profits.