- What is a UX Audit (and Why Does it Matter)?
- What Are the Benefits of a UX Audit?
- UX Audit Process
- Areas of Evaluation
- Common Techniques and Tools
- Working With Specialists
- Getting Buy-In
Imagine a world where every time you clicked on a website or opened an app, it was like walking into a beautifully designed and expertly curated art museum. Each feature was thoughtfully placed and easy to find, the layout was intuitive and visually pleasing, and the overall experience was one of ease and delight. Now imagine the opposite: a website that feels like a cluttered garage sale, with disorganized information and frustrating navigation. As a user, which experience would you prefer?
As a Product Leader, it’s vital to ensure that every digital product created cultivates an art museum experience, not the garage sale. And one of the most important tools in our toolkit is the UX design audit. By taking a critical look at every aspect of a product's design, we can identify where improvements can be made, and then make those improvements to create a seamless, enjoyable user experience, as well as set the product up for future growth and scalability. In this blog post, we'll take a deep dive into all things user experience audit.
What is a UX Audit (and Why Does it Matter)?
A user experience (UX) audit, or usability audit, is a comprehensive examination of a website or app's usability, accessibility, and overall user satisfaction. It's essential for SaaS companies to conduct regular UX audits to stay competitive and nimble in an ever-changing digital landscape.
UX audits are an incredible opportunity to identify new product features that enhance a user’s experience, address usability pain points and identify hindrances to growth. They provide teams a chance to step back and take a deep dive into the performance of their products, discover conversion rate optimization techniques, and user engagement quick wins. When agencies like us conduct UX audits for SaaS teams, we’re able to identify starting points for discovery and design work that support long-term business objectives.
Additionally, a UX audit gives companies an opportunity to gather user research and implement a customer feedback loop, which increases retention and reduces churn. It’s an excellent way for product leaders to create products that truly meet the needs of their users and adapt products according to shifting industry standards and expectations, as well as the needs, behaviors, and attitudes of their users.
What Are the Benefits of a UX Audit?
Investing in an expert review of your SaaS product’s user experience with a UX audit can drive business growth and provide opportunities for companies to scale. Here’s a list of some opportunities teams identify during a regular UX audit review:
- Increase customer retention rates
- Conversion rate optimization
- Improve mobile user experience and overall app usability
- Reduce onboarding friction
- Boost user engagement
- Address usability pain points
- Reduce customer service operational costs
- Identify hindrances to growth
- Increase average order value
- Improve path-to-purchase
- Simplify navigation and user flow
- Frame dashboards around user priorities
Would you believe it if we told you that’s not even all a UX audit can do? A UX audit can be tailored to a company’s needs based on its industry, product type, customer base, and more, which is precisely why a regular deep dive into product analytics is so valuable for business growth and identifying opportunities that are quick to implement, but high return on investment (ROI). In fact, a study conducted by Forrester in 2016 found that on average, businesses saw a $100 return on investment from every dollar spent on user experience improvements.
Related content: Optimizing Your E-Commerce Website: UX/CRO Audit [Free Guide + Checklist]
UX Audit Process
While UX design teams and researchers may have their own spin on how to conduct a UX audit, our UX/UI designers created a guide for teams to review their own app’s user experience and identify quick-win enhancements. When we review products, we follow a 10-step process similar to this:
- Understand current product analytics, KPIs, and business objectives.
- Identify top priorities and open questions for further investigation.
- Conduct a small set of user experience research (UXR) to understand user needs, behaviors, and attitudes while interacting with a SaaS application.
- Capture screenshots of key pages and user interface (UI) states as a foundation for prioritizing product opportunities.
- Add annotations to screenshots to address gaps in UXR and product analytics.
- Review annotations to tag improvements that are low-level in an effort, but high ROI.
- Debrief with the team to review findings and align on the next steps.
- Create a report and present findings to stakeholders, including recommendations for improvements and a prioritized list of action items.
- Develop a product roadmap to implement improvements, including timelines and additional resources needed.
- Continuously monitor and measure the effectiveness of changes made, using user feedback and product analytics
Conducting your own UX analysis can be a daunting task, but it’s a valuable tool for identifying areas for improvement in a SaaS product’s user experience. By following a structured process, teams can gain a deeper understanding of their user’s needs and behavior and establish a cadence of data-driven decision-making.
Related content: Optimizing Your B2B SaaS User Experience [Free Guide + Expert Review Process]
Areas of Evaluation
During a UX audit, there are several key areas of evaluation to consider. These areas may vary depending on the industry and target user audience, with different considerations for EdTech, FinTech, E-commerce, and so on. In this section, we will take a closer look at how these areas of evaluation differ between industries, and how teams can tailor their audit process to their specific needs.
EdTech companies, for example, need to be analyzed with an understanding of government guidelines and accessibility requirements like ADA and WCAG 2.1. EdTech platforms have to be built with students in mind and personalized to their needs in the learning process rather than a one-size-fits-all learning approach. Take Duolingo, for example. They’ve committed themselves to continuous user research and have implemented embedded test questions to measure progression and offer insight into ongoing app improvement.
And for e-commerce companies? Well, their goals are different and focussed on clarifying the path-to-purchase and identifying opportunities that increase average order value, and upselling products with personalized suggestions during the checkout process. When customers leave a cart and don’t complete a purchase, companies need to know why and what actions they can take to get their customers across the finish line and come back for more.
For B2B SaaS clients we work with, we focus on multiple components of their product, but if one stands out the most, it’s a user’s onboarding flow. A user onboarding flow can make or break the product’s experience as it’s the first chapter in the story of a digital product. If an onboarding flow isn’t seamless, intuitive, or doesn’t catch a user’s attention, users will leave faster than you can say SaaS.
Considering your industry, knowing who are key players, and digesting user feedback is essential to a product’s success and can all be identified during a UX audit. If you’re experiencing low conversion rates and user engagement and high acquisition costs, it may be time for you to conduct a UX review, or talk to a specialist who will do it for you.
Common Techniques and Tools
There are several common tools and techniques used for conducting a UX audit, some of which include:
- Heuristic evaluation: A method for evaluating the usability of a user interface by comparing it against established usability principles.
- User research: Techniques such as interviews, surveys, and usability testing to gather data about user needs, behaviors, and attitudes.
- Analytics: Tools such as Google Analytics and Amplitude to track user behavior and measure key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Heat maps and click maps: Tools that use visual representations of user clicks and mouse movements to understand how users interact with a website or app.
- A/B testing: A method for comparing different versions of a website or app to determine which design elements lead to better user engagement.
- Card sorting: A technique to understand how users group and categorize information on a website or app.
- Tree testing: A method to evaluate the effectiveness of a website or app’s information architecture.
- Task analysis: A technique that examines how people use a product or service to accomplish a particular task.
- Personas: A fictional user representation that describes a specific user group, with their characteristics and goals.
- User Story: A story that describes a specific user’s experience with a product or service.
- User Journey Mapping: A technique that visualizes the steps that a user goes through to accomplish a specific task or goal.
- Accessibility evaluation: Techniques to evaluate a website or app for accessibility, such as using automated tools and manual testing to identify issues with color contrast, keyboard accessibility, and other accessibility standards.
Related content: Unlocking Product Potential: The Ultimate Guide to User Research
Working With Specialists
If you’re a busy team with a big deadline, or a young team with limited experience, hiring a UX/UI design agency may be the best route to get the most out of your UX audit. Working with specialists in user research, analytics, and accessibility can offer teams stability and confidence where instability and confusion may exist.
A UX audit can be done in 3-4 weeks. It should be done by a user experience expert or product strategist who takes the time to understand your team’s unique goals and product challenges so that you can walk away with key deliverables such as:
- A screen-by-screen teardown of your app or website
- Results and actionable insights from stakeholder interviews
- A screen recording of our first impressions as we walk through your app or website A summary of key product and UX opportunities, including quick wins and larger opportunities
- Analysis of heatmap and session recording data
- Unmoderated user testing results (when applicable)
- A competitor analysis for additional insights and opportunities
- A virtual meeting to review takeaways and discuss next steps recommendations
- A prioritization discussion to help teams align on the most important areas to focus on.
At Scenic West, our UX audit services are designed to help SaaS teams at any stage understand their current product on a deeper level and eliminate any hindrances to growth.
Discover how our UX audit service can be tailored to you & improve your product’s user experience - inquire today for pricing and package details
Selling the value of a UX audit to stakeholders can be challenging, but it’s essential to communicate the benefits in a way that speaks to their interests and priorities. If you’re interested in learning more about getting buy-in and support to invest in a UX audit, take a look at this blog for some helpful tips.