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You have an exciting offer, a polished website, a focus on quality content and SEO, engage in social media activities, and yet you are unsatisfied with the conversion rate. Perhaps the problem lies in the so-called usability of the website. A UX (User Experience) audit can help you identify and fix errors that may discourage your customers from taking advantage of your offer.
Interested? Find out more! Also, discover the most common UX errors on websites – you may find a way to improve your website. A usability audit will make visitors to your website more likely to perform the desired actions!
What is UX?
UX (User Experience) is based on the usability concept, primarily applied to evaluate websites and applications. User-friendly websites are those where users can easily find the information, products, or services they need and quickly proceed to conversions, such as purchasing. Usability also encompasses intuitiveness – the website should be easy to navigate and straightforward to use.
The term User Experience is used to describe users’ experiences and impressions while interacting with a website. It involves assessing the user-friendliness of the website and its accessibility. UX comprises various factors, from design and aesthetics to navigation and information quality.
This concept has gained increasing attention lately, primarily due to its impact on the effectiveness of websites and applications. Prioritizing UX (User Experience) leads to higher conversion rates as it ensures that the website meets visitors’ expectations.
In addition to User Experience, the concept of User Interface (UI) is worth mentioning. It refers to the user interface, which encompasses all elements that enable interaction with the website (e.g., page layout, graphic design, typography, colors).
While UX and UI are sometimes treated as synonymous, they usually coexist, playing a significant role in how users perceive websites. A usability audit or user experience audit should incorporate both of these elements.
Conducting a UX audit of a website allows you to identify areas for improvement, analyze the website’s usability, and ultimately provide you with guidelines to enhance effectiveness.
UX Audit – What’s It About?
Even if you think your website is user-friendly, logical, and intuitive, it may appear differently to random internet users who come across it. So, how can you assess user experiences? The best way is to conduct a UX audit by an experienced user experience specialist.
User Experience Audit involves evaluating websites or applications based on meeting the expectations and needs of their visitors. Such a website audit requires knowledge of internet user habits, trends, and issues related to clarity of communication. UX audit is a complex procedure that can bring many benefits:
- It allows you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a particular website.
- It highlights any errors made and their potential impact on conversion.
- It also identifies opportunities and threats for the future.
- It suggests actions that should be taken to develop and improve the website’s effectiveness.
Research conducted during the audit should cover aspects such as:
- Website structure and navigation between different sections.
- Page views, particularly in terms of readability.
- Clarity and unambiguity of conveyed information.
- Website usability – obtaining necessary information, placing orders, contacting the company, etc.
Audits are conducted in various ways but always require expert knowledge and experience.
Expert UX Audit – What Does It Look Like?
A UX audit is conducted using various methods. The most reliable results are obtained by combining several of them. The first step should be an expert analysis involving in-depth website research conducted by UX professionals with the necessary knowledge and experience. In this case, several established UX methodologies are applied. Which ones?
- Heuristic Analysis (Heuristic Evaluation):
This involves evaluating websites based on heuristics, which are specific principles and guidelines. The most commonly used are Nielsen’s heuristics, described in 10 points. They provide very general guidelines for the functionality of a website or application:
- Visibility of system status.
- Match between the system and the real world.
- User control and freedom.
- Consistency and standards.
- Error prevention.
- Recognition rather than recall.
- Flexibility and efficiency of use.
- Aesthetic and minimalist design.
- Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors.
- Help and documentation.
Alternatively, one can use Schneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules, Connell’s 30 Usability Principles, or Gerhardt-Powals’ Nine Cognitive Rules. All of these guidelines convey similar principles but are formulated slightly differently. The choice of which codes to apply during the audit is not of great significance.
- Cognitive Walkthrough:
A cognitive walkthrough, also known as a cognitive stroll, is a method that involves testing potential user scenarios on a website. In this case, an expert takes on the role of a user who is visiting the website for the first time. Adopting different scenarios allows for examining each “stroll” path through the website and helps identify problem areas or explicit errors in terms of UX or UI.
- Usability Checklist:
This method involves checking the website against specific points from a usability checklist. The checklist is usually quite detailed and outlines guidelines for website construction. It is objective, which is undoubtedly an advantage, but at the same time, it is rarely tailored to a specific website, which may limit its ability to detect certain errors. The usability checklist procedure is relatively straightforward but can be time-consuming.
User testing can also be part of a UX audit. These procedures allow testing of how “ordinary” internet users navigate the website. The study can be moderated (conducted by a specialist) or unmoderated (users freely navigate the site). After completion, participants are asked to complete a survey and provide feedback on the website.
Such tests can be combined, for example, with the analysis of eye-tracking, clicks, scrolling, and other data, which are used to create heat maps. This enables the identification of not only the major obstacles that visitors encounter on the website but also the most important points of their interest.
Results of UX Audit:
The result of a UX audit is typically a comprehensive report that should accurately identify errors, areas for improvement, and recommendations. Errors are usually categorized into three categories:
- Critical errors – These have a significant impact on the functioning of the website and require immediate attention.
- Medium errors – They are essential but can be addressed in a secondary order.
- Basic errors – These are minor issues identified during the research but have little impact on the website’s functioning.
Errors are often further classified based on type (e.g., communication, visual, logical, etc.). This allows them to be immediately assigned to the appropriate teams and facilitates faster implementation of necessary changes.
It is also important to note that the audit report should include both quantitative data (e.g., statistics) and qualitative data obtained, for example, through user research. The more information contained in the website analysis results, the more comprehensive and objective the picture received. Consequently, the implemented improvements have a greater chance of impacting the conversion rate and user satisfaction.
What’s Next After the UX Audit?
After the UX audit, it is time to implement its findings and conduct further usability tests to assess the effectiveness of the implemented changes. It is worthwhile to create UX prototypes showcasing elements that require improvement and then conduct A/B tests.
This is a procedure in which two groups of users are presented with different versions of a website, with the versions ideally differing by only a single element. The behaviors of the study participants are then observed, and it is determined which version allows for a higher conversion rate.
After the modifications to the website are completed, a follow-up audit can be conducted to assess its effectiveness.
Common UX Mistakes – What to Pay Attention to?
Every website is unique, but certain mistakes are repeated all too often. If you want to conduct a fundamental, independent website analysis, familiarize yourself with the list we have compiled and check what to avoid!
- Interface Not Adapted to User Needs
A website should be clear and easy to navigate, above all else. Difficulties in this regard, especially those encountered right from the start, can effectively discourage users from staying on the site. This truly matters! To make the website user-friendly, you must know what you want to achieve by publishing it. It’s worth asking yourself questions about what the website is about and how users should navigate it, keeping in mind that the conversion process should not involve too many steps.
Some websites even throw obstacles in the way of their users, making it difficult to find basic information about the product or pricing and then unnecessarily prolonging the conversion process (e.g., requiring users to click through several subpages before reaching a tab for registration or purchase). It’s also important to remember that the interface should allow for the website’s future expansion, such as additional categories, products, services, or language versions.
- Form Over Content
A related mistake is prioritizing form over content. This is primarily the result of an overly ambitious approach to design or a desire to showcase one’s skills as a developer. The outcome can be a website that initially looks great but needs more upon closer examination.
An overly complicated structure, lack of clarity, excessive animations, and other visual “tricks” distract from the website’s main message. Sometimes, simplicity is truly the best approach, especially regarding usability.
- Non-Adherence to Reading Patterns
The human eye typically “scans” a presented image according to one of several reading patterns. The three most popular patterns are the Gutenberg diagram, the Z-pattern, and the F-pattern. They describe how the human eye travels.
Understanding these principles allows for placing important elements (such as registration or purchase buttons) in areas likely to catch the user’s eye. However, many creators ignore these principles and opt for solutions that may look good superficially but certainly do not ensure the desired conversion.
- Lack of Responsiveness
According to the Global Digital 2020 report, over half of all website visits occur on smartphones. However, some websites still need to be optimized for screens as small as a few inches! If a website is unreadable on the phone, it’s no wonder that you can’t boast satisfactory conversion rates. Importantly, it’s not just about having a mobile version of the website that “works to some extent,” but rather about its quality.
Copying content and features from the desktop version into a smaller version won’t suffice. It’s worth carefully considering the placement of individual elements and, if necessary, eliminating less important ones to achieve a clearer and more user-friendly design.
- Ignoring the Fold Line
This point is somewhat related to the previous one. The fold line is the line that determines the visible area of a website without scrolling down. It should be enticing. Some people, fearing that users will leave the website before accessing essential information, place the majority of the content here. However, this is a significant mistake that can be revealed through a UX audit.
It’s also important to note that the fold line is located in a different position on a computer screen, tablet, or smartphone. Therefore, the amount of information and its graphical representation above the fold line should be adjusted separately for each screen size. Remember, less is often more.
- Content Overload
Content is king – or so we can deduce from the wise analyses of marketing specialists. However, this doesn’t mean that you should bombard website users with information, and a UX audit should also take this into account.
Long, detailed product descriptions or instructions related to services offered can be your asset, but they must also be adequately presented. Otherwise, no one will read them, and many will leave the website and never return.
Instead of large blocks of text, use short paragraphs and bullet points. Highlight important elements with appropriate graphics or icons. Add buttons with call-to-action (CTA) statements.
If there is too much content on the page, consider breaking it into tabs for specific services, products, or aspects of the offering. This action can also be beneficial for SEO if you use appropriate keywords.
- Complex Forms
Forms are a minefield, especially for inexperienced website creators. If you expect users to fill out a form (e.g., registration, quotation request, contact form), ensure that it is as simple as possible! UX audits often prioritize forms due to the critical nature of this stage for website users.
In this case, the principle is quite clear – the more fields there are, the less likely they will be filled out. Labels, additional comments, and buttons must have a clear message. If a date needs to be entered, specify the required format. For weights, measurements, etc., be sure to indicate the applicable unit.
After creating the form, examine it carefully and remove all unnecessary fields. Use checkboxes and radio buttons where possible. It is essential to provide precise error indications. If a user receives feedback after filling out and submitting all fields stating that an error occurred (without indicating which field and what the error is), they are likely to not only give up on further actions but also become irritated.
- Incorrect placement of essential elements
The most critical elements of a website should be placed in visible locations so that users don’t have to guess “what’s next” or search for the appropriate button (e.g., to add a product to the cart). Nothing is more discouraging than a website that sparks interest but then makes conversion difficult. A UX audit pays attention to such customer paths and identifies the correct flow and navigation on the website.
It’s worth remembering that there are specific unwritten rules on the internet – all confirmation buttons (“OK,” “Next,” “Agree”) should be located on the left side, while buttons for negative actions (such as “Cancel,” “Delete,” etc.) should be on the right. It has also become customary for the button to add a product to the cart to be located near the price. Making life difficult for users doesn’t pay off – even if you think it makes your website unique.
User Experience Audit – who handles it at Verseo?
A proper User Experience (UX) website audit requires a deep understanding of theoretical knowledge regarding how we interact with websites, such as Nielsen’s heuristics. It also necessitates extensive experience in handling measurement tools like Hotjar or Smartlook and high proficiency in analyzing data, for example, using Google Analytics.
Combining theory and practice allows us to have individuals who can conduct a UX audit of a website reliably, based on real data rather than wishful thinking. Experience is equally crucial in creating a detailed audit report that is both accessible in language and rich in data-supporting hypotheses. At Verseo, the usability audit of a website is carried out by the following individuals:
Anna Tratnerska – With over 15 years of experience in marketing, data analysis, and UX, Anna is a lecturer at Collegium Da Vinci in Poznan and the Head of Business Development at Verseo.
Adam Kluska – Adam has been involved in User Interface analysis and graphic design for over seven years. He considers usability audits as the best way to achieve “quick wins,” meaning rapid acquisition of more customers by eliminating barriers on websites.
If you want to increase your conversion rate and entrust your website’s UX audit to experienced specialists, it seems you have come to the right place!
Take care of UX, and success will come naturally
Creating effective websites is more challenging than it may seem. Awareness of this issue is growing, and UX audits of websites are increasingly being utilized as a tool in the marketer’s work. Success is a combination of many factors that must harmonize perfectly. However, investing in User Experience will pay off. A functional website translates into higher conversion rates and a better brand image, resulting in both short-term and long-term benefits. Do you want to conduct a UX audit? Do you have any questions? Schedule a free consultation now!