Many of us come across websites or mobile apps and feel frustrated with some of its shortcomings. We might think, “I cannot make out what to click on to complete my goal ” or “I don’t know how to go back to the page that I came from?”. This is because sometimes the site’s design can puzzle us and we end up not knowing exactly what to do on the site.
A design audit can help you identify common problems that are causing agony for your site visitors and help you identify the simplest ways to help users easily reach their goals on your site.
What is a design audit?
A design audit is an examination of all the visual and interactive elements that you use to interact with customers, clients, vendors and other audiences. The term Design Audit aka “Heuristic Evaluation” was coined by Jakob Nielsen in 1995.
A design audit is nothing more than identifying problem areas that need to be prioritized. The idea is to analyze visual and interaction style and message with a concern for uniformity and execution.
Why does design need to be evaluated?
Not many people know it, that your website/digital experience must grow with your business and must have high conversion rates. How will you know what areas of your site need to be refreshed, redesigned or rethought?
A functionally sound visual design coupled with good user experience is of utmost importance in building trust between the user and the company. Good design speaks on behalf of the company and helps the company turn their visitors into customers and also encourages them to return to a website.
The main purpose to evaluate design is to determine the qualitative and quantitative impacts of design. It allows for pinpointing and prioritizing visual and functional design issues right at the beginning of a redesign effort.
What we do
We take a deep dive into your business apps/experiences and:
- Familiarize ourselves with the app/experience
- Document the problem areas
- Identify actionable takeaways to improve the same
- Ultimately help in increasing conversion rates
How we do it
We follow a fourfold process to conduct a design audit.
Various clients come to us to re-design their apps/experience. But in most cases, they are unable to justify what is working well or not working well for them. This is where a design audit plays a major role. We help clients identify their product’s/service’s issues and concerns by conducting a design audit and then work around them to improve the overall experience of their product/service.
2. Scope of the Project
Based on our identification of the re-design, we scope the project and counter in the limitations. Post this, we set the expectations with our client as to what they would get at the end of the analysis. We discuss in-depth, all the usability functions and journeys that will be analysed with the client so that we are on the same page.
Once the scope of the audit is frozen, we review the project and different components on which the audit has to be performed. Accordingly, we form an audit team of novice users to achieve these goals and document their experience in detail. This gives us the entire set of issues that they face while trying to achieve their goals. These issues are then classified based on a predefined set of categories and severity to drill them down further.
4. Heuristic evaluation
One or more Human Factors experts use the inspection method to identify usability problems in the app/experience. Evaluators measure the usability, efficiency, and effectiveness of the interface based on 10 usability heuristics originally defined by Jakob Nielsen in 1994.
Under heuristic evaluation, we perform the below steps.
- Identify issues based on Jakob Nielsen’s usability principles
- Categorize these issues to further drill them down
- Assign severity to focus and prioritize the issues.
We use Jakob Nielsen’s heuristics which are ten principles for user interface design. They are as follows:
- Visibility of system status
- Match between 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
2. Categorizing Issues
Once we have the list, we categorize the issues in the pre-defined list of categories.
- Visual Design
- Interface Design
3. Assigning severity
Next, we assign severity to each of the issue based on how each issue will affect the user:
- HIGH: Usability catastrophe which is imperative to fix
- MEDIUM: Major usability problem which is important to fix
- LOW: Minor usability problem
We recommend our clients to focus on the issues that are categorized under HIGH with the utmost urgency so that the experience of their users is not flawed.
Here, we identify the client’s competitors and evaluate their strategies to determine their strengths to those of the client’s current products or services. This evaluation helps in establishing what attributes of competitors are better than the client’s service. It also helps in understanding the client’s current state and how they offer certain services which their competitors might not be offering. Hence, how better they can market and showcase their additional services.
In the design audit report, we propose different possible solutions to each of the issues which are enlisted. The recommendations that we provide helps the client sift through the evidence and make rational choices to improve their app/service’s experience and in turn, increase conversions.
Sharing with the clients
We create an exhaustive list of all the issues, categories and severity and share the report with our clients. We break them down into what needs to be immediately fixed as well as share recommendations and competitor analysis for similar lines of work to help our clients understand, replicate and fix the issue before they create huge damages.
Additionally, the summary report guides us through our redesign process to create streamlined experiences which are also visually appealing to users.
Now that you know the benefits of a design audit–they lead to more cohesive and consistent user experiences. If you know there is friction in your product, conducting a design audit of your current product can help you create a short-term roadmap. Through a design audit, you’ll discover how to enhance onboarding, why conversions are low, why retention may be low, or any other issue you’re currently experiencing.
Most importantly, design audit helps you figure out what not to fix and what not to do. It gives you a heads up on what will work and what will not work for your service. This definitely helps you focus your energy on the most important details.
The ROI of design is clear, so conducting a design audit to find out where you’re deficient will pay dividends. At best, it’s about finding a balance between UX, UI, interaction design, usability, accessibility and web performance.
This blog was originally published on NetBramha Studios