UX Audit: Guide To Improving User Experience

It is no exaggeration that about one third of websites end up failing. Through our experience in web development, we’ve found the reason. Websites are created for stakeholders, and by stakeholders, through a completely opinion-driven basis. The end product is a company-centric, rather than user-centric, website with byproducts of usability or usefulness issues that are only revealed once the site is put live.

Signs of Poor Site User Experience

Factors contributing to poor UX include: an aging website, a poor redesign or a disconnect between what the business was hoping to achieve versus what the consumer wants.

Contrary to popular thought, UX has little to do with how much your website cost or when it was designed. The main consideration is how the website works from the customer’s perspective. Regrettably, by the time UX symptoms are identified, much of the damage has already been done.

Poor UX & the Cost of Inaction

Once it’s been identified that a website has poor UX, it’s important to take action quickly. ROI is a term often thrown about but COI or cost of inaction is something to also consider.

Let’s assume your site is under performing by about 30%. Regardless of your website’s primary goals (conversions, downloads etc.), what would be the true cost of a website which is not performing optimally? How many business opportunities could you lose over 3 months, 6 months, a year?

The cost of inaction could become staggering in addition to the reputational and professional risks to the business.

What About a Redesign?

A long term solution may be a redesign, though it is important to realise that this type of project may take months to complete. In the meantime, the staggering costs of poor UX will continue to grow.

Once the redesign is complete, are there any guarantees that the new website won’t have similar issues? It’s important to consider what will actually change. You may engage a new design team, and be impressed by their prior results, but will they build something that will work for your users? Unless you have a robust understanding of what the users actually want you may inevitably run into similar UX issues in spite of a rebuild.

This is where a UX audit should enter the process.

Quick Wins & Measured Decisions

UX audits highlight exactly where your users are struggling so that resources and fixes can be applied with maximum business impact. Irrespective of how poor the website is, you can always deliver quick wins before (or in the place of) a redesign.

A UX audit also helps to better prepare for a long-term redesign. Through the audit, you learn how users are interacting with your site, what is and isn’t working and how to improve the relevant elements. Applying these lessons learned to the new website will circumvent past mistakes and support a successful outcome. If the previous intelligence is thrown away with the new build, the redesign will miss some vital usability insights.

UX audits allow you to make empowered, educated and objective decisions based on facts as opposed to opinion and guesswork. The result is a higher ROI on the money spent creating the new website.

How Does it Work?

A proper UX audit is complex and consists of steps and methods chosen based on the website and situation. A standard UX audit may consist of a heuristic assessment, moderated and unmoderated user testing, cognitive and pluralistic walkthroughs, strength and weakness analysis and other elements. The report which is generated, as a result, should show you what the main issues are, how severe they are, highlight the evidence and supply clear recommendations as to how they should be fixed.

You could also consider user testing if it fits with your demographic and psychographic profile. Users are asked to complete common tasks while making remarks along the way (which are recorded). This approach gives a richer understanding of what users think about the site and how they react to various bottlenecks. These types of insights are particularly eye opening as stakeholders get a first hand opportunity to see users’ actions on their site for the first time.

A genuine UX audit is based on facts, research and scientific data as opposed to an opinion.

Published on Wednesday, 1 July 2020 under Web Development.