If you’re familiar with the basic ins and outs of application and software development, then you may have heard of an UX audit, sometimes also referred to as an UI audit. Believe it or not, but conducting an UX audit is integral in improving the functionality of applications for the end user.
Say that you’re running an online store. All of a sudden, your users are no longer interacting with your store’s mobile app. To make matters worse, the people that use the app are leaving their carts full of items and leaving entirely.
Clearly, this is an issue that needs to be resolved immediately to keep your bottom line from sinking. The good news is that an UX audit can help determine the issues regarding user experience and interface for all software and other applications.
This complete guide will delve into the definition of an UX audit, reasons for conducting an audit, and the formal procedural steps.
Let’s get started.
A UX audit is a comprehensive diagnostic test that examines the functionality and performance of an application. To put it simply, a UI audit digs deep to uncover reasons why an app isn’t performing up to par.
Particularly, the purpose of a UX audit is to:
As you can see, conducting a UX audit is necessary if your application isn’t meeting your standards and objectives. However, conducting this audit shouldn’t be an option only when an application is failing.
It should also become a preventative diagnostic tool to eliminate subtle critical issues before they become more pressing and expensive to repair.
A UI audit is typically only pursued once an application has been live for quite some time. However, a UX audit can be conducted during virtually any phase of an application’s life cycle.
This includes applications that worked just fine after launch but suddenly started to produce a wide variety of different issues, such as reduced sales, users overlooking vital information, and low user interaction and retainment.
Initially, it’s difficult to find out the exact reason why an application isn’t performing up to standard. Therefore, conducting a UX audit is crucial to the long-term success of any software solution.
More specifically, a UI audit can help developers answer the following questions:
These are just formal questions, as a UX audit can analyze the issues of an application and recommend areas of improvement. The answers you receive will strongly depend on the goals of the audit.
It should be very clear why conducting a UX audit is instrumental in facilitating optimal performance for your application. The major advantage of a UX audit is that it provides actionable recommendations based on user data.
This allows developers to better understand how users think and use their applications, implement more functional in-app procedures, and ultimately meet their key performance indicators (KPIs) for the solution.
Nonetheless, there are some limits to engaging a UX audit. Conducting an extensive audit into a broken application can cost a great deal of time and money that many organizations don’t have.
As such, the UX team and business leaders will need to work together to focus on ways to get the most out of an audit with budgetary and time constraints. A UX audit can also be affected by the party conducting the examination.
Many in-house developers are too close to their products and may form biased opinions even presented with hard data. This prevents them and their organizations from achieving rampant change in altering their applications to maximize user experience.
Therefore, it’s highly recommended to consult an outside organization to conduct a UX audit on your behalf. If this isn’t possible due to budget constraints, then you should make sure that your internal UX team practices effective usability best practices to eliminate product bias.
A UI audit can be conducted in a variety of different ways. Thus, there is no such thing as a universal method for engaging an audit. Rather, an audit can take place in the following ways:
Usually when the audit begins, developers will schedule interviews with the stakeholders of the product. This will allow them to grasp the core objectives of the application and what they believe are core issues.
When conducting a UX audit, it’s best to cast a wide net and interview multiple employees who use the product, from customer support representatives to the CEO. This will allow developers to gather different opinions that can be useful in altering the application.
Finally, the interviews should conclude in compiling recommendations from staff members that reflect the priorities of the stakeholders.
It’s a common industry tactic to interview users about their experience with products through a survey. In actuality, user surveys can be quite valuable in gaining key insights into how people use your application and all the shortcomings they encounter.
Many organizations use tools like Google Analytics to analyze the traffic incoming to their applications. Google Analytics and other similar platforms can help developers understand how many people are using an application and where they’re navigating to.
The key in using these platforms in gathering enough data to prove trends. Otherwise, the data you acquired will be limited and meaningless.
The sole purpose of a UX audit is for the developer to provide meaningful data that can be acted upon. Simply pointing out critical issues of an application won’t improve it.
Therefore, once you acquire data from your audit, you should move forward in documenting the key issues hindering its progress and how they can be resolved.
Writing down this information can suffice, but there are various communication devices you can use, such as:
Whatever device better helps you communicate your findings to the UX team and business leaders will be helpful. It’s important to remember that a UI audit almost always precedes a product redesign.
Therefore, a visual will best keep all collaborators on the same page regarding a UX solution.
Now that you fully understand what a UX audit is, you should begin the steps of implementing this procedure to improve the performance of your products. Below, we’ve broken down a UX audit into six fundamental steps.
Skilled developers have already mastered the skill of creating products for users. However, the first step to conducting a UX audit is understanding the organizational objectives of the product.
In-house developers will likely already have a grasp of a product’s purpose and expectations, while others may not. If you’re facing the latter situation, you can simply send a brief survey to stakeholders to determine:
When conducting interviews, be sure to meet only with people who regularly use the product being audited. These people can include customer support representatives, salespeople, marketers, developers, project managers, and executives, to name a few.
Each interview should provide you with a unique point of view about what is going right and wrong with the product in question. However, the goal of the audit isn’t just to define core business goals.
For example, if multiple employees contend that the purpose of the company’s product is to improve sales, what exactly does that mean? Does this objective involve selling a particular product?
Does the objective specifically target online or in-store purchases? Interviews with stakeholders will focus on specific objectives and determine if they’re currently being met.
In the beginning stages of the audit, the developer must provide data representing these objectives to stakeholders to ensure that they understand the purpose of the audit moving forward.
The next step in conducting a UX audit is getting to know the users for the product. To accomplish this goal, you must first create a user persona. This is simply a fictional archetype of what a standard user looks like.
You can obtain the information used to create the user persona through the interview process mentioned in the previous step. Once this data is compiled, you’ll learn more about the product on a granular level and help decide if it’s currently designed to reach its target audience.
You don’t just have to rely on stakeholders and other employees to provide you with insights into a product. You can also interview end users for their input. Interviewing 5-10 people will suffice in gathering a valuable test sample in determining how users interact with a product.
Once you fully understand what a product’s purpose and goals are and learn more about the typical end user, you can create what is known as a “user flow.” A user flow is a visual roadmap a person takes when using your application.
For example, the user flow for an eCommerce app would entail a person accessing the product and ultimately making a purchase. User flows need to be specific for one main reason.
A brief user flow that dictates people entering the product and buying something won’t tell you anything when it’s not performing well. All you’ll be able to deduce is that the application isn’t contributing to any meaningful sales opportunities.
When you create a user flow, develop specific sequences like so:
Like the example above, a specific user flow is helpful because when one sequence isn’t being completed, you’re better equipped to find out why. For example, if users engage in the checkout process and don’t convert, you can perform an audit into this process to see what’s preventing them from buying.
When you have a one-dimensional user flow (user enters app, user converts), you’ll have no idea of where a potential problem will lie.
Again, many organizations use analytical platforms like Google Analytics to track and measure the performance of their products. This qualitative data is invaluable during the audit process, providing clear-cut insight into your application’s progress.
When using analytics to bolster your audit, make sure you’ve traveled far back enough in time to uncover trends to support your findings.
Completing a heuristic evaluation may seem like rocket science, but the process is actually very simple. It simply involves placing yourself in the role of the end user and applying all the data you’ve acquired so far during the audit.
During this process, it’s important to document and take notes while transitioning throughout the user flow. This helps to uncover user pain points and other obstacles that are preventing them from taking action.
Once the audit is complete, you should organize all your findings in an extensive report. Deliver the report to the stakeholders, development teams, and all other collaborators to keep everyone on the same page.
The report should include solutions for each problem listed.
As you can see, conducting a UX audit is a very comprehensive and time-consuming process. The moment you delay or screw up this sensitive process, the longer you’ll endure wasting money on an unsuccessful product.
To avoid the complications of this outcome, it’s best to leave this important task in the hands of the professionals. At Dev.co, we can help you conduct an extensive UI audit for your application.
Contact us today to speak to a member of our team about getting started.
Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.