UX Audit in 2023: When and How to Do It Right
If your digital product has been live for a while, it’s worth conducting a UX audit in 2023 to assess your product’s performance from a user’s point of view.
A user experience audit is a cost-effective way to assess the current state of your digital product, define the usability issues, and outline the next steps to improve its performance.
As a UX design company, we sometimes get audit requests from product and website owners who don’t know why their products’ performance worsened. What do they often do in this case? They collect quantitative data from different tools to understand what might have led to a drop in performance and plan a redesign project. Based on our experience, it’s a big mistake that wastes time and money.
Here is why. Many reasons affect why the performance of a digital product changes over time, but the root causes are unclear without conducting a UX audit with proper research.
At Limeup, we’ve created this in-depth guide to usability audit featuring our 10+ years of experience in the UX design industry. This article will be helpful for business owners willing to improve their products’ performance but don’t know where to start.
Furthermore, this article provides an in-depth overview of how to do an audit step-by-step. After reading this article, you will know how to conduct a user experience audit for your product.
Contact us if you are looking for someone to help you conduct an audit. Our UX experts will help you understand how to approach it and maximize the output from a UX audit for your business.
What is a UX audit?
A UX audit, or user experience audit, is a process of analyzing the current state of your digital product to understand why and when it fails to meet the needs of your users. It usually takes 2–4 weeks and includes a holistic usability evaluation of an entire product user interface.
You might wonder what is UX audit and why do it if a simple UX website redesign can help improve overall user experience and perception.
Unfortunately, it does not work this way.
The statistics about poor usability only prove our UX design expertise — a well-designed user interface could raise your website’s conversion rate by up to 200%, while a better UX design could yield conversion rates by up to 400%.
A whopping 400% CR increase is possible due to user-centered product design backed up by research.
UX audits can help you answer the following questions about your digital product, whether it is a website or a mobile application:
- How do users perceive your digital product?
- Do users understand the navigation?
- Can users find the required information in three clicks?
- What prevents users from submitting a contact form or making a purchase?
- Why do users abandon their shopping carts?
- What should be changed to improve the product’s business performance?
Depending on the current state of your product, a user experience audit can help you answer even more questions about your product’s core usability issues and user experience.
For example, conducting a usability audit can help you discover critical issues in your product, which, if tackled, can help you address your users’ objections, increase conversion rates, decrease drop rates, and improve the overall user experience of your product.
If you wonder whether you should run a UX audit for your product, the following paragraph will help you understand when it’s recommended to do UX audits.
How to prepare for a UX Audit.
When should you do a user experience audit?
A UX audit can be done at any stage of your product growth to assess its level of usability and get actionable user feedback.
As a UX design agency, we want to outline several cases when it’s recommended to do a user experience audit.
1. You want to validate an MVP
Suppose you run a startup that works on a minimum viable product. It’s almost ready, and you want to release it soon.
In this case, we recommend conducting a quick UX audit that will help you grasp if
- Users can understand your product’s user interface.
- Users can find the information they need.
- Nothing prevents users from completing the target action (purchasing or filling out a contact form).
If you detect any usability issues, you can fix them before an MVP release. This way, you’ll increase your chances of a successful product launch and make a positive first impression on your potential customers.
2. You want to redesign an existing product
If your digital product has been live for a while, how do you define what UI elements should be redesigned?
At Limeup, we get many redesign requests from companies that want to create a better look for their websites and mobile applications. In such cases, the first question is, “Does your product design help you achieve your business goals?” If your current product design supports your business goals, then what’s the purpose of a website redesign?
Redesigning an existing product is a costly and time-consuming process. Therefore, we recommend doing it if you want to improve the business performance of your digital product.
In this case, a UX audit will help you understand the current state of your product, what might have led to a decrease in KPIs, what user flows have usability issues, and why your target audience does not convert into customers.
Upon the usability audit completion, you’ll have a researched-backed list of usability issues that, if tackled during the redesign, will help you improve your product’s performance.
3. You want to validate the product design before the development
If you want to implement design changes to a newly developed product, you’ll have to allocate additional money, time, and resources, which could otherwise be spent more wisely.
We recommend conducting a quick user experience audit before implementing your design solution to avoid excessive design and development work.
Ideally, create a clickable prototype and test it with your potential customers to ensure they can easily understand and navigate your product. If any discrepancies are discovered during the usability testing, iterate your product design before development.
How businesses can benefit from a UX audit
In the previous paragraph, I’ve explained when conducting a user experience audit for your product is worth it. By now, you should clearly understand what stage of growth your business is in and how a UX audit can be helpful.
In this paragraph, I’ll explain the business value of a UX audit and what your business can achieve as a result of running it.
Every business decision should be financially justified. Therefore, at Limeup, we strive to emphasize the importance of data-driven design decisions. An audit is one of the instruments that can help you achieve it.
Benefits of a UX Audit.
A better understanding of your users
Even though a UX audit is a shorter version of user experience research, it can reveal many insights about your target audience’s challenges, needs, and wants.
By knowing what your users pay attention to when looking for a partner company, you can improve your business positioning to look more professional and credible.
Reduced expenses on irrelevant features
Conducting a UX audit to validate the product design before the development can help you prioritize your development efforts.
When you know what web pages and features are the most essential for your users, you can prioritize their development. This way, you will allocate resources to the most impactful areas of your product, avoiding excessive expenses on irrelevant features.
Increased user satisfaction rate
According to Hubspot, 88% of customers are less likely to come back to a site with a poor user experience. This problem is not only related to websites. Mobile and web applications will also experience a similar drop.
If users are unhappy with your product for some reason, a UX audit can help you figure out why. Perhaps, your website loads slowly, or something prevents them from making a purchase, leaving them frustrated. There can be multiple reasons.
You will only be able to grasp the true reasons for users’ dissatisfaction after conducting usability testing and user interviews as a part of the user experience audit.
You’ll know what adversely impacts users’ experience firsthand. Addressing users’ needs and eliminating frustrations will help you increase the user satisfaction rate, which will inevitably lead to the next point.
Improved conversion rates
Your product converts when a user becomes a customer by performing a target action, such as a purchase of a contact form submission.
Based on our experience, many factors impact conversion rates, such as the following:
- A website’s layout and responsiveness
- Page speed
- Easiness of navigation
- Attractive and cluttered-free design
As a business owner, you can create a positive impact if you know that some fail to meet your users’ expectations.
Addressing the key challenges will help you reduce friction in usability and level up your product’s performance, whether it is a mobile application or a website.
Conversation rates by industry.
Higher retention rates
According to Invespro, existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more when compared to new customers.
Furthermore, converting a prospect is more challenging than making a deal with a former client who already knows and trusts you.
That’s why investing in retaining your former customers and users is essential.
A UX audit can help you better understand the pains and needs of your existing customers, whether their experience is satisfactory, whether they will need your help again any time soon, and how you can create even more significant value to retain them.
How to do a UX audit
In this paragraph, I’ll share the step-by-step user experience audit process we follow at Limeup. You can replicate the same process in your company while assessing your product’s usability. Alternatively, you can contact us for expert advice from our UX designers.
1. Understand the product and business challenges
We start the UX audit by organizing an introductory call with the client and discussing their challenges and business goals. Our UX designers and researchers aim to understand the current state of the digital product and where it fails to meet users’ needs.
Furthermore, we always have the objectives discussed and set before starting UX audits.
2. Find participants for usability testing
Once we set the objectives, our UX researchers prepare usability testing scripts and look for participants.
It’s essential to find participants who have either used the client’s product in the past or can be in the target group. Based on our experience, we can confirm that these people will share the most insightful information about the product, usability issues, and potential areas for improvement.
The number of test participants depends on the complexity of the product and the UX audit’ timeframe.
According to Jeff Sauro from MeasuringU, 85% of all UX problems can be discovered by conducting five usability tests.
3. Collect UX audit findings
At this stage, our UX researchers conduct usability tests with the target audience using scripts such as the following:
- Sharing a few words about the purpose of the usability testing.
- Explaining how long the usability test will last and what will happen.
- Asking participants to think aloud during the test.
- Asking for permission to record the interview for further processing.
- Asking participants to follow real case scenarios, such as going through a particular user flow or performing a specific action.
- Asking participants to share their overall experience and feedback about the test.
- Clarifying if participants have any remaining questions and thoughts to share about the product.
Having a usability testing script helps establish priorities, get the required information from participants, and follow the timeline.
All usability tests are recorded for further processing and data collection by our UX researchers.
4. Compile a UX audit report
At the final stage, our UX experts review and analyze the insights from usability tests to make data-driven recommendations on improving the usability and performance of the client’s product.
We put together a UX audit report comprising key research findings, usability issues related to the product design, brief information about the usability tests, recordings, best UX practices, and our expert recommendations.
We always include screenshots, user quotes, and video snippets to back up our statements and communicate the usability issues the way users see them.
Unlike many UX design companies, we don’t simply send a UX audit report to our clients. Instead, we organize a meeting with decision-makers, where our UX experts present the findings, highlight the most critical usability issues, and share the actionable recommendations ranked in the order of importance.
Contact us if you want to conduct a usability audit. At Limeup, we have experienced UX designers and researchers ready to help you level up your product’s performance.
UX Audit process.
Quick UX audit checklist for website owners
As a website owner, conducting an audit can help you identify and address any issues that may negatively impact the usability and effectiveness of your website.
At Limeup, we use this UX audit checklist during a website redesign.
You will find this quick checklist helpful if you plan to do a website user experience audit.
1. Review your website’s core message
Start your website UX audit by reviewing your site’s message. The following questions will help you understand whether your users perceive your website how you want.
- Does your website have a clear purpose?
- Do you communicate who you are and what you do on a homepage?
- Does your website content reflect your core message?
- Are your website’s design elements (such as colors, fonts, and visuals) consistent and support your message?
- Does your website’s message trigger an action?
- Do you communicate the value proposition?
- Do you communicate your competitive advantages?
These are a few questions to consider when conducting a website UX audit that can point to potential areas of improvement.
2. Check website navigation
Confusing website architecture can be the reason why users get lost on your website and do not complete the target action.
We recommend analyzing whether users can navigate your website easily and quickly find what they want. Various tools can help you track users’ online behavior, such as Hotjar, Mouseflow, or Crazy Egg, to name a few.
These tools record user sessions to help you see what your users see, create heatmaps, and track events and funnels.
You can rethink your website’s navigation by understanding where your users drop and why.
3. Analyze page speed
Google says that 53% of visits will likely be abandoned if your website pages load for more than 3 seconds.
They have also confirmed that site speed is one of the ranking factors in organic search.
Therefore, we recommend analyzing the loading speed for desktop and mobile devices. You can use PageSpeed Insights, developed by Google, to analyze your website’s loading speed and see actionable recommendations for improvement.
At Limeup, we regularly conduct UX audits for our website and client websites. It helps us detect and fix technical issues in a timely manner.
Limeup website loading speed on desktop.
4. Check Google Analytics and Google Search Console
As a next step, we recommend checking the performance of your most essential website pages in Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
If you do not use these tools yet, we highly recommend setting them up because they offer the most comprehensive overview of your website’s performance.
At Limeup, we recommend checking positive and negative trends for the following metrics:
- Traffic growth
- Bounce rate
- Conversion rate
- Page indexing
5. Check whether your website’s forms work properly
Every website has contact forms that help connect website owners with users.
As a part of the user experience audit, we recommend reviewing the usability and functionality of your website’s contact forms.
Are your website’s forms easy to use and understand? Do any errors appear while submitting the forms?
Write down your observations while testing the forms. You will use your findings later to improve your website’s user experience.
Bad and good example of web form.
6. Check if the calls to action help you achieve your business goals
Every website should have clickable CTAs that trigger visitors to perform a target action, whether a purchase or a contact form submission.
If you experience drops in conversion rates, we recommend reviewing your website’s CTAs.
As a part of a website UX audit, we recommend answering the following questions while assessing calls to action:
- Do users understand and use your calls to action?
- Are they all clickable?
- Do they lead to the target web page?
- Are they placed in visible and strategic places?
- Are proper namings used?
- Do users click on CTAs?
Calls to action directly influence conversion rates. Therefore, we recommend reviewing all web pages with CTAs, especially those with the lowest CRs.
7. Review heatmaps
Heatmaps help determine your website’s most popular design elements based on where your website visitors click the most.
We recommend analyzing heatmaps to understand whether your website visitors browse through and click on corresponding design elements. If they fail to do so, it’s a usability issue that should be addressed once the UX audit is complete.
Depending on your website’s traffic, gathering statistics on website visits and clicks will take a few days to months.
A heatmap example.
8. Check the design consistency
According to the research study called “Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites,” first impressions are 94% design-related!
It means most online users make decisions based purely on design aspects. Chances are high that people will abandon unattractive and inconsistent websites.
That’s why we recommend you hire UX designers to review your overall website design, consistency of design elements, and look and feel during the UX audit.
9. Collect feedback from your website users
By now, you’ve only relied on quantitative data when assessing your website’s performance. We also recommend talking to your website users to get qualitative feedback.
As a part of the website user experience audit, you can ask the following questions:
- How did you stumble upon the website?
- Is it clear what the website is about and what it offers?
- Where would you click if you wanted to submit a request?
- Could you easily access the website on other devices, such as mobile or tablet?
- What is your opinion on the website’s visual design?
- Was it easy to navigate the website?
- Did you experience any difficulties while using the website?
These questions will help you get actionable feedback from your site visitors and former clients.
Once you finish the UX audit, you should have a list of usability issues that must be addressed. As a next step, we recommend prioritizing website issues based on their business impact and starting to implement them.
Need help with a UX audit?
Contact us to discuss how we can help you run an impactful usability audit and improve your digital product’s performance.
Limeup is an established UX design company that provides custom UX design and development solutions for startups and enterprises worldwide. We have a team of design experts, developers, researchers, and consultants dedicated to helping your business grow.
How long does a UX audit take?
A user experience audit can take 2–4 weeks, depending on the complexity of your product and the challenges you want to address.
The first week is usually dedicated to discussing the client’s product, challenges, and business goals and setting the objectives.
The rest of the time, UX experts recruit test participants, conduct usability tests, analyze research findings, create a UX audit report, and provide actionable steps to improve your product’s performance.
Who conducts a UX audit?
Depending on your budget and timing, a dedicated UX researcher or a team of UX experts can help you conduct an audit. They usually have relevant experience, can define the most suitable research methods to use, and know how to recruit the target audience for usability testing.
At Limeup, we dedicate our UX designers and researchers to conducting UX audits for our clients. While UX researchers collect valuable insights from the target audience, our UX designers assess the UI (user interface) of a product to give actionable recommendations for improvement.
What does a UX audit consist of?
A usability audit is a holistic evaluation of your digital product that consists of several steps.
1. Setting up the objectives with stakeholders
The first step is crucial for you, as a client, to clearly understand the objectives and expectations of the UX audit. The UX team will collect information about your product to better understand the scope of work, its characteristics, challenges, and the next steps.
2. Usability audit and user interviews
At this point, the UX team or a freelancer conducts several usability tests with your target audience and customers to collect quantitative and qualitative data.
Usability tests help understand when and why users fail to navigate your product and perform the target actions. Moreover, user interviews help get valuable feedback on your product and learn what else you can change or implement to meet people’s needs.
A User Interview example.
3. Data analysis and report preparation
When the research phase is completed, a UX team analyzes the recorded interviews and puts together a UX audit report with detailed information on the usability problems of your product.
It’s one of the most important steps of a usability audit where field and UX expertise are needed to interpret the research findings correctly.
4. A roadmap with the next steps is created
Besides the UX audit report, a roadmap with the recommended next steps is prepared for a client. The roadmap includes UI and UX recommendations for implementation that should help you tackle usability issues and improve your product’s business performance.
What is a UX audit report?
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A UX audit report is a ppt or a pdf file that contains the results of the user experience audit, such as:
- Brief information about test participants
- Usability test recordings
- Design elements with usability issues
- The most impactful user quotes and screenshots from recordings
- Usability recommendations ranked in order of importance
A report created by a UX expert is a roadmap of what you can do to improve the perception of your product, its usability, and business performance.
How much does a UX audit cost?
The costs of a UX audit are defined by the scope of work, the timeline, and whether you’ll do it in-house or hire external experts.
According to UXbooth, the costs of an extensive user experience audit with deep research and usability testing can be as high as $7,500. However, that’s not the limit. Established UX design and research agencies can charge even more for a usability audit.
We recommend partnering with UX experts, such as Limeup, if you are unsure how to conduct the audit and get the most out of research findings.