UX Audit – All You Need to Know
In today’s fast-paced tech industry, it’s challenging to maintain perfect design consistency, especially when you have multiple teams working on the same digital product! Periodic UX design audits allow designers to evaluate a product to identify continuity, consistency, accessibility, and usability issues.
What is a UX Audit?
A UX audit (sometimes called a UX review) is a quality assurance (QA) process that reviews an existing digital product to ensure it meets business, user experience, and accessibility requirements.
A design audit allows UX designers to identify user pain points and business value opportunities using valuable real-world data. Testing during the design process is limited in revealing how a product will perform in the real world –especially if you have thousands or millions of daily users.
An auditor will measure, test, and analyze the following during a UX audit:
Design system inconsistencies—fonts, colors, patterns, etc.
Layout and hierarchy inconsistencies
Customer journey bottlenecks and roadblocks
Usability and accessibility
Branding and messaging
Review product design against business and user experience goals
Traffic, engagement, conversion rates, retention, and sales analytics
Legal compliance (GDPR, CCPA, etc.)
At the end of a design audit, auditors generate a UX audit report with actionable recommendations to fix any issues or optimize the product.
When to Conduct a UX Design Audit?
Teams typically conduct a UX audit as part of the QA process whenever they release a significant product update or product redesign. Organizations may also schedule periodic UX audits to ensure a product meets business and user experience objectives.
Who Conducts a UX Audit?
Who conducts a UX audit will depend on the size of the company and available resources. Many small companies and startups will likely use in-house design teams to perform UX audits.
To get an objective, non-bias UX audit, some organizations use external auditors to evaluate their products and deliver a report. Large companies might use a UX design agency, which can be expensive but produce thorough audits with meaningful feedback and insights. Smaller businesses and startups might consider hiring a freelancer to get similar results.
How to Prepare for a UX Audit
A UX audit requires several benchmarks to evaluate a digital product. Without these benchmarks, auditors have no way to determine whether the product is meeting its KPIs, goals, and objectives.
To prepare for a UX audit, you will need:
Clearly defined business goals
Product data and analytics
Previous UX audit results & changes
Audit constraints, deliverables, deadline, and stakeholders
Identifying your customers and their personas before you conduct a UX audit will help determine if your current users (from analytics data) match your target users (from previous user and market research).
Suppose the UX audit reveals a change in user demographics. In that case, UX designers might need to apply the design thinking process to determine if the product adequately caters to this new group.
Clearly Defined Business Goals
Understanding the company’s business goals is another essential factor auditors must know in preparation for a UX audit. Auditors will need to assess whether the product meets the company’s business expectations and the design’s impact, whether negative or positive.
Product Data and Analytics
Auditors must gather relevant product analytics and information like heatmaps, click tracking, and other interaction data. Companies might acquire this data through Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, Hotjar, and CrazyEgg, to name a few.
This data is crucial to understanding how users navigate a digital product and whether designers need to consider changes to match this behavior.
Analytics can also provide auditors with conversion and revenue data to measure the product’s success metrics and KPIs.
Previous UX Audit Results & Changes
Auditors can use reports from previous UX audits to check if any of the same problems still exist. If there were any design changes after the last UX audit, auditors can determine whether the changes solved the problem and impacted user experience.
Audit Constraints, Deliverables, Deadline, and Stakeholders
Lastly, auditors must understand the audit’s budget/resource constraints, deliverables, deadline, and stakeholders for reporting. This information is as important as the audit itself because it will determine how auditors conduct the review to meet constraints and expectations.
Conducting a UX Design Audit
Once you have completed your preparation, it’s time to conduct a UX design audit. Auditors will examine four key elements of a digital product, including:
Design system evaluation
5 Tips to Perform a Successful UX Audit
Record everything: take notes, screenshots, and provide links to every flagged issue. These records will ensure you don’t forget anything and provide thorough, actionable feedback to stakeholders.
Stay organized: depending on the scale of the product, you’re likely to collect a lot of data, including notes, images, metrics, etc. Use a spreadsheet to organize and analyze analytics data, and use cloud storage to save corresponding assets, like screenshots.
Actionable recommendations: provide stakeholders with actions they can take to fix the problems you identify. These actions must align with real insights rather than guesses or assumptions.
Be exact: when reporting, tell stakeholders the specific problem, where to find it, and recommendations to fix.
Prioritize findings: let stakeholders know the importance of issues you identify—for example, low, medium, and high. You would typically prioritize these based on the severity of the problem and how it impacts the user experience.
Regular design audits are vital to determine how products align with user experience and business goals. If you are conducting your first UX audit, you must have a clear UX strategy, so auditors have benchmarks, objectives, and KPIs to measure against.
Jakob Nielsen’s ten usability heuristics provide a fantastic foundation for auditors to test a product’s components and features. Auditors should use these usability heuristics to look at a product objectively and ask questions from a user’s perspective.