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What is a UX audit?

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UX audit: The glossary of terms for the SaaS managing director, e-shop owner or e-commerce manager.

Meet Tomek, who founded a very interesting startup offering carpooling. Tomek built the SaaS platform. Initially, the business developed very well. From month to month the platform served more and more passengers. After a year, Tomek hired another two programmers. After brainstorming, the team decided to make some improvements and simplify the website

 SaaS - software as a service, one of the cloud computing models in which the application is stored and executed on the computers of the service provider, and is made available via the Internet.

Tomek was surprised when a month after the changes were introduced, the conversion rate of ordered trips fell by 10%. Even worse, the negative trend continued into the following month.

Tom began to wonder what had happened. The initial diagnosis of Google Analytics did not look good. The bounce rate had increased and the average number of pages visited had fallen.

A UX audit provides a better understanding of the user of the website.

Conversion and UX audit

Tom's most important problem is the decrease in conversion.

Conversion is the completion of a transaction that is important to the success of a business.

Source: Google Analytics

In the case of Tomek, it’s a trip booking, however, depending on the type of website, it can be the purchase of a service, filling out a form, subscribing to a newsletter, downloading a file, etc.

The conversion rate is important because it lets you know how many customers have achieved a goal on our site, i.e. what proportion of your customers/users are profitable. An increase in conversion translates directly into an increase in income.

Example: Suppose that before the changes Tomek's website was visited by 20,000 users per month. The conversion rate is 25 percent. On average, booking a trip brings Tomek 5 PLN. A monthly startup earns PLN 25,000. A 10% conversion rate drop (i.e. to the level of 22.5%) means a decrease in income by PLN 2,500 a month.

drawing of the presenter in front of the team
The scope of a UX audit depends on the problem we are facing. | Fig. Andy Bright / Flickr.com

UX audit: user path or funnel

Between entering the website and completing the goal, the user must perform several actions. The funnel is a series of steps a user takes to accomplish a goal or, in other words, convert. On Tomek's website, it’s a choice: route, interesting journey, number of seats in the car, as well as payment and final booking of the journey.

Google Analytics allows you to define the funnel and track the number of users progressing to each step. Funnel control allows you to react to problems with retention (retention on the site) of users in individual steps. Systematic analysis of the funnel allows you to find the source of problems on the website.

Tomek managed to determine that after making changes to the website, the number of users choosing the number of seats in the car dropped.

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UX audit - Definition

A UX Audit is a set of research methods and techniques that allow you to identify and understand the problems that a user faces on your website.

As the name suggests, the focus is on the user's perspective. Even the most experienced expert will not replace a conversation with a user, especially with an unusual profile. Only users can discover less obvious insights and motives for us.

On the other hand, during the study it’s important to remember about the platform's business goals. UX research helps us understand the user's needs, and offer him the best product/problem solution.

Getting to know the user's path
 In a UX audit, knowing the user's path is an important element. | Fig. Andy Bright / Flickr.com

How are UX audits built?

The scope of the UX audit depends on the problem we are dealing with. Nevertheless, every UX audit should start with determining the user profile of the platform (persona) and the tasks it should perform on our platform.

The most commonly used research methods are:

1. Expert analysis - its purpose is to play the role of an expert and describe all possible threats to the task and the difficulties the user may encounter during the visit.

The analysis is based on the experience and knowledge of an expert, who is additionally supported by website statistics (e.g. Google Analytics) and research that has been carried out so far by the client.

2. Observation of user behavior on the website with the help of specialized software. With the help of Hotjar or Yandex Metrica we can watch video recordings about how users behave in a natural environment.

3. Tests with users - the main advantage of this method is the ability to conduct in-depth interviews with users and understand the reasons for their behavior. Thanks to this, we are able to answer the question "why" instead of guessing what caused the resignation.

The above methods are used to detect errors on the website. The evaluation of implemented solutions is another important topic. For this purpose, you can use AB tests, but we will deal with this topic in a separate article.

 In the UX audit, knowing the user's path is an important element. | Fig. Andy Bright / Flickr.com

How did the UX audit help Tomek?

Typical Tomek: Nobody knows my platform and users better than me!

Tomek fell into the trap of his own intuition, he did not verify the functionality of solutions developed with his colleagues before implementation.

Starting the process of changes on the site with a UX audit would give Tomek a professional diagnosis of the problems occurring on the platform and the threats the user may encounter during the implementation of tasks.

However, the help of the researcher does not end at highlighting problematic areas. It also includes an attempt to understand their sources. Only by understanding the causes of the problem are we able to design an effective solution.

Why should you order a UX audit?

For the same reason students don’t check their classrooms.

Creating a digital product is a complicated process in which many people and departments in a company are often involved. Conducting an audit on your own may result in a lack of objectivity and miss system faults before the end of the diagnosis "because it’s impossible to do otherwise".

It should be remembered that the purpose of the audit is not to criticize the existing project, but to look for areas in which it can be improved, and thus increase the company's profits by improving the functionality and increasing user satisfaction.

Audit of Nielsen's usability and heuristics

The basis of every UX audit is a heuristic analysis, which consists of 10 usability heuristics. It is used to provide the users with the greatest level of comfort when using the interface. Designing in accordance with heuristics works especially well when we think about our own online store.

Main photo: Needpix.com

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Journal / JPG / Krzysztof Jarocki - avatar
Autor: Krzysztof Jarocki
UX Resercher