UX Review: How Hard Can It Be?
Building brand identity, attracting and retaining customers, advertising and improving products - flawless user experience is the key to all of them. That’s why running a UX review is a good idea for both existing businesses and those who are just starting out.
What Is a UX Review
In the times of multiple possibilities and fierce competition, customer satisfaction becomes the acid test for products and services. And since interacting with new apps is like going on a blind date, you have to make sure users are so satisfied with your product that they’ll keep using it. Or at least keep it. That’s why user experience is essential for creating a solid functional app or website and you can’t afford to ignore UX review.
UX review is the analysis of a website or an app based on business metrics and insight data that aims to evaluate the quality of user experience. After the audit, a UX professional gives recommendations on improving the product, backing them up with the screenshots, reports and statistical data.
The purpose of these reviews is to either create a perfect user journey from scratch or locate and correct the existing issues with it.
How Do You Know It’s Time to Run a UX Review?
If you have a product, app or website, take a closer look at its user experience. Did you notice that:
- Your app frustrates people (according to the feedback from users);
- The product does not bring as much revenue as it was predicted; conversion rate decreases;
- It’s hard to perform the required actions.
These are just the basic symptoms indicating that your online business needs UX diagnostics and treatment.
There are two ways to run a UX review: find a UX professional or do it on your own. UX review stages require tools, data sources and some technical background. With some guidance, you can try running a basic UX review yourself. But you will need a professional to apply advanced review techniques and correct the mistakes. We’ll discuss both ways of reviewing your website or app so that you could choose the option that fits you best.
Experience Your UX
The reality is harsh: the customers won’t hesitate to abandon your app or website if they don’t enjoy using it. If you are just planning to develop your product, consider hiring a UX designer from the start – it will definitely pay off. Besides, it’s always easier and cheaper to avoid mistakes than face them later. But if you already have a website, product or app that’s not performing very well, here’s a UX review template you can use to diagnose it yourself:
1. Define the objectives
First of all, know what you want to achieve. The visualized goals of your review will help you focus on the specific aspects of your audit. For instance, the primary goal may be to change the design and revive your website. This differs fundamentally from the desire to increase the sales of a specific product through the online store. The focus is different, so you’ll have to use various data sources and tools to reach your goal.
2. Create personas and user flows
The success of the UX review depends on how well you can step into your client’s shoes. Staying objective is quite a challenge here, and the secret recipe is creating individual customer profiles – persona cards.
Personas are fictional users who have needs, interests and objectives connected to your product or service. Imagine, an average Mr. Smith from your target audience. What’s his age, occupation, family status? Is he extrovert or introvert? What is he looking for on your website? You should create several typical personas based on market research and hard data. Then put the info about your hypothetical users on persona cards for better visualization.
Example of a persona card? Here’s a checklist for creating personas.
After you get acquainted with your users, think of their way to achieve the goal with your product. How can you help them? Where and how exactly do they come across your service? Create a user flow diagram that will show a sample user journey based on their objectives. Usually, it starts from search terms or social media ads, then continues to landing pages or direct websites. To create a substantial user flow and behavior flow, you will need additional data.
3. Analyze the data
Data analysis is one of the critical stages of UX review. Without it, you won’t even know who your customers are and what they need from you. You may play the guessing game, of course, but UX review is about offering the best experience based on facts and analysis, not cartomancy.
The number and quality of traffic, its source, location, demographics, device information, behavior and user flows, ads click rate and so on – all this can and should be studied through different data sources.
- Google Analytics
The most common and all-encompassing analytics tool is, of course, Google Analytics. It will show you:
- what the user needs (the most popular search terms and keywords);
- where has the user found you (user flows that show traffic from different sources like Google search, social media, landing page, etc.);
- what the user does next (flow visualization reports which show how your customers enter, engage and exit your website; pages’ bounce rate).
Advanced GA users can benefit from even more reports, but the volumes of data are quite intimidating. Start from something simple and move further with this guidance.
For those of you who are sick and tired of Google Analytics, here are a couple of fresh alternatives:
- HitTail for keyword choice;
- PiWick, open-source real-time analytics; great if you don’t want to share your insights with Google;
- KissMetrics for bounce rates and CTA click-through studies;
- Linktrack for click and impression tracking;
- AWStats for operating systems and browsers info in addition to the standard visitor and pageview counts.
It’s better to use one source for as much analytical data as possible and then close the gaps with other services. This way you’ll have a better-organized process and won’t drown in reports.
4. Revise usability and accessibility
Now, when you have the persona cards and a dozen reports, it’s time to make good use out of them. Wear your customer’s shoes and start using your website or app. Try different devices, browsers and operating systems. Following the user flows, note everything that causes problems, feels annoying or doesn’t lead to your goal. Make screenshots of bugs and user journey flaws. It can be a tiny typeface for an important link, too many clicks needed to make a purchase, unnecessary or misleading ads, etc. To provide a sound and all-encompassing report, here’s a checklist for your revision:
- user journey;
- mobile and desktop functioning;
- overall accessibility of the website pages (you can use Google Lighthouse for this).
5. Run a technical review
The process of UX review should include a technical evaluation as well since it always influences the quality of user experience. Your app may be good for desktop but is running slow on mobile while the report shows that more than a half of your users run it on their smartphones. This way, speed and performance check may significantly improve your traffic and bounce rates.
Finding weak spots is one thing but fixing them is a whole other problem. The Lighthouse we’ve mentioned above can help with the revision and offer some best practices, but fixing the problems you’ve found is your responsibility. So, either learn how to fix them yourself or find an expert who can help you out.
The Google search rank of your website or app affects user experience as well. Missing alt tags, weak titles, lack of descriptions can lead to losing your potential customer. To improve your website’s SEO, check out DareBoost, DeepCrawl, ForeCheck or Google Analytics.
6. Set success metrics
This stage presupposes making suggestions and recommendations. Go through the gaps revealed by the UX review and draw the opportunities. Add metrics to every UX problem in the form action = result. For example, you have a high bounce rate on the Services page. You assume that adding case studies will improve the situation. Set a clear objective: to decrease the bounce rate of the Services page by N% through publishing case studies.
Make sure your metrics are reasonable and attainable. You can analyze your competitors to see their numbers and compare them with yours.
Yeah, reviewing a website, product or app on your own is no picnic. Another option is addressing professionals for a UX review.
Why conduct a professional UX review?
The answer is simple: it’s highly questionable that you could bake better muffins than a pastry chef. The same’s here: UX designers are pros, who know what to search for AND how to fix it. In QubStudio, for instance, two UX designers work for at least two weeks to run a professional UX review. They possess specific knowledge in:
- the cognitive walkthrough;
- system patterns;
- composition and coloristic;
- various review methodologies (from user interview to heuristic evaluation);
- multiple testing methods (A/B testing, SWOT analysis, concept testing, etc.)
Also, the pros know what standard compliance means (e.g., ISO 9241-210) and how to implement usability best practices. What’s more important, professional UX designers provide recommendations on improving your product, from minor issues such as changing the color of the button to modifying the entire logic of the user flow. They are unbiased and objective since they haven’t been involved in the design creation and don’t view the product as their child.
When we talk about a three-page website or an app with minimal functionality, owners can usually run a usability check without any third-party help. But even in that case, it will take a lot of time and some background knowledge to do that since one of the UX review stages is gathering data from many sources. As for complex apps and services with broad functionality, they should be reviewed by professionals. Not only do UX designers collect and analyze data, conduct various testings and revisions, but they can also provide recommendations and fix the usability problems they’ve found. If that’s what you’re looking for, contact us, and the QubStudio team will gladly help you out.