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How to do a web usability audit?

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A user experience web audit (UX Audit) is a way to identify problem areas in a digital product, revealing which parts of a website or application are causing headaches for users and hindering conversions.

Like financial audits, a usability web audit uses empirical methods to expand on an existing situation and offer heuristic-based recommendations to improve, in this case, user-centric improvements.

A UX web audit should let you know how to improve conversions by making it easier for users to achieve goals within your website.

So how do you know which points need to be updated, rebuilt or redesigned?

It all starts with a web audit to identify the areas that cause problems for users and come up with solutions to achieve your business goals.

In this article we want to focus on a web usability-based analysis to identify what is working well and what areas need improvement. All this, to optimise the user experience (UX).

From a UX perspective, this analysis considers best design practices, usability compliance, functionality, information architecture and use of patterns.

If you are thinking of performing a web audit of your own, these are the six most important things to consider in terms of usability.

The 6 core points for a web usability audit

1.Homepage

Your website users evaluate in a fraction of a second whether the page offers them what they are really looking for. For this reason, there are a few things you should ask yourself about your website’s homepage.

  • Does the site clearly explain what your company or product offers and who it is aimed at?
  • Is your company’s value proposition clear?
  • Do the graphics and page architecture encourage users to browse the site?
  • Is there a balance between content density and white space?
  • Are the CTAs visible enough to help you get leads?

Don’t ask yourself. Use tools to analyze what your users are doing. Based on that data, draw your hypotheses for improvement.

2. Action-oriented

Each page and section of your website should have a main objective or a path for users to follow. Start with the most trafficked and top-level pages for this evaluation.

We recommend using user recordings and heat mapping tools to analyze the pages that receive the most traffic to your website so that you can make relevant improvements that increase your conversions.

Design, layout and organisation can contribute to the way users browse the pages of a website, so look closely at the clarity with which this information is presented.

It is crucial for the user to know what action to take at all times. Just like any other product we use on a daily basis, a website must be so intuitive that the user hardly has to think about what he is doing.

To achieve this you must ask yourself if the action you want users to take is clear at all times. Or maybe there are distractions and barriers that prevent the user from completing the required action. These must be removed as soon as possible.

3. Navigation and information architecture

The site navigation or menu allows the user to go from one place to another on your website.

While a person in a physical space may rely on an innate sense of direction to get from one place to another, within a web site they cannot benefit from these mechanisms. Therefore, it is essential to design a simple and effective web navigation.

A high-level analysis will help you determine if there is a natural and obvious way to move around within the site.

When it comes to navigation, you need to ask yourself:

  • Are all navigation buttons and tabs consistent?
  • Is there an obvious relationship between the navigation and the page the user is currently viewing?
  • Is the navigation simple enough not to confuse or frustrate the user?
  • Are only the main top navigation elements shown?
  • Can the user quickly identify where the navigation is on mobile devices?

If your navigation does not meet these standards, you may need to implement design changes so that users know at all times where they are and where they need to go.

4. Forms and data entry

It is very common for websites to use inefficient forms that make it difficult for users to contact the company. Therefore, these do not generate conversions effectively.

If the forms are not well optimised, you may be losing many opportunities to generate new customers.

  • Review your web forms to make sure the fields are clearly labeled.
  • Provide clues to users about expected input values.
  • Eliminate any extra fields that are not vital to the sale.
  • Clearly highlight submit or continue buttons.
  • Use staged forms to capture large amounts of data without overwhelming users.
  • Minimize distractions on the page where the form is located.
  • If your website does not comply with these best practices, you may need help from experts to improve the usability of these forms. On the other hand, if you use a CMS like WordPress you can implement these recommendations yourself and see how you can increase conversions.

5. Trust and credibility

Credibility is an essential principle for web design. The success of your site is the result of how your customers perceive their experience when interacting with your company.

Credibility also fosters customer loyalty and facilitates positive word-of-mouth.

For starters, you can make sure your website is free of elements that make users feel uncomfortable.

  • Is the content error-free?
  • Does the site use ads in a professional manner?
  • Is the content written for humans or is it keyword-heavy?
  • Are there customer or user reviews?
  • Can we see credentials or success stories?
  • Are real people shown on the web page?

Creating content for a website is a time-consuming process, but it is extremely important. Any website focused on business objectives should contain what are known as conversion catalysts. These are elements that reinforce credibility and build trust.

6. Design and visualization of the page

Users will make quick judgments about your website based largely on the visual appeal of the site. Nonetheless many design styles can be applied, all should adhere to best practices and design standards.

  • The design should help the user know what action they should take.
  • Clickable elements should be highly visible and interactive and non-clickable elements should not look like they are interactive.
  • Fonts should be used consistently throughout the site.
  • There should be a balance between white space and content.
  • Overall, the site should be pleasant to view and navigate but not be so visually cluttered that it distracts from the main actions.

By examining a website with a critical and trained eye, we can get a pretty good idea of its quality and what areas could be improved to enhance the customer experience.

A true UX audit will go much deeper, but reviewing these 6 common pain points will help you diagnose the most pressing issues you’ll need to fix.

Presenting the results

After performing a deep analysis of user recordings, heat maps, we must develop hypotheses on how to optimise the user experience of the website: why users act the way they do instead of the way we wanted them to act.

To simplify it, you can compare the data obtained with the following four cornerstones of successful digital products:

  • Relevance: does the site or app address a user pain point? Is there a gap between expectations and reality when users encounter your product?
  • Value proposition: is the value to the user clear and compelling?
  • Usability: are there points of ambiguity or uncertainty in your product interface, or do customers intuitively understand what to do?
  • Action: Are calls to action visible and relevant, and do they incentivise users to act?

You can also use Nielsen’s heuristic principles, if you want to know more we recommend this article: How to perform a Heuristic Analysis?

Conclusions on user experience web auditing

A web usability audit requires a significant investment in terms of time and human resources if done in-house, and money if professional usability auditors are hired.

However, the benefits to a website or app are visible especially if conversions are stagnant or growing slowly and the experience of the users is not represented in the product improvement process.

If a UX audit is performed, significant, data-driven changes can be introduced and we could see increases in both user satisfaction and ROI.

What should I do now?

If you have more questions and want to know how we work, contact us and one of our consultants will contact you for advice.

For further information on this and many other topics you can check out other articles in our blog where you will find references on this, and many more topics.

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