I can’t begin introducing website user experience (UX) without first talking about doors! More specifically, Norman doors – my favourite of the worst doors ever made.
A Norman door is one where the design tells you to do the opposite of what you’re actually meant to do. It’s a door that gives the wrong signal and needs a sign to fix it. The original Norman door was named after – and not by – design guru Don Norman. He wrote The Design of Everyday Things, which, among other things, explored this design foible.
To work out if you have walked up to a Norman door, ask yourself, “does using this door make sense?” If you can’t guess whether you should push or pull to open it, chances are you’ve just encountered a Norman! Once you spot one, you won’t believe how many more Norman doors are out there, confusing us all with their poor design.
The obvious question at this point is, “what does a Norman door and a website UX audit have in common?” Well, more than you think. The design frustration that Don Norman wrote about is, sadly, not exclusive to doors. His human-centered approach applies to anything we use regularly. And what do most of us now use every single day of our lives? You got it, websites!
Walking into a door that looks like you need to push when you actually need to pull can really hurt. So can losing sales through your online business when users can’t navigate your checkout form. Website problems like this happen every single second of every single day. A poor user experience will only ever have one outcome – your customers will not achieve their goals.
Fortunately, this article will help you avoid this. We’ll talk you through the importance of having a website that offers the very best user experience. And we’ll show you why a website UX audit is the only way to know if your online business has a Norman door.
Table of Contents
Who’s This Article For?
Most successful businesses have some form of website. It’s essential for selling directly to customers or building brand awareness. But how much value is your business getting out of your website? When was the last time you had a good look at it and evaluated the overall experience your users have when they engage with it?
Successful businesses must evolve at the speed of light. This means your website must keep up. This can mean new products, pages, systems, and any number of small to large content updates. To keep up with the demand for new website updates, your business might decide to hire website designers, developers and digital marketers. These updates can feel important, and the cost necessary. But do you know the effect on your users? If you don’t consider them before making the changes, your new website will likely offer a poor user experience.
If you fall in the following groups, this article is for you:
- Business owners and Chief Executive Officers who have seen considerable business growth. However, you now feel disconnected from your users and want to improve their experience. You need answers to questions like “where are users getting stuck?”, “where are they dropping off?”, “why are they dropping off?”, and “what do they not understand?”.
- Chief Operating Officers and marketing managers concerned about wasting the marketing budget by sending users to a website that doesn’t convert. You want real insight into your website usability problems and want to know how to fix them to improve the user experience.
- Businesses that want to do more with what they have. Building a new website to compete with your biggest competitors can be timely and expensive. But improving the conversion rate of your current website, based on data-driven insight, can be fast, more effective, and give you a competitive edge.
- Current clients who come to us for help with their digital marketing. You want to make sure you are maximising your investment with a well-optimised website that results in increased user satisfaction, reduced development costs, and increased conversion rates.
- Web designers and developers who want to learn more about how to design and develop beautiful websites, with a real understanding of the importance of user experience.
What’s The Problem?
Clients often come to us because they want a better Return On Investment (ROI) from their marketing budget. They have a business that’s growing, and they want to maximise that success by exploring new marketing channels and opportunities. They hope that will lead to more traffic, quality leads, and a higher conversion rate. But they nearly always miss one important factor – the experience of their users.
When companies don’t design their websites for users, they can run into a host of potential problems.
They can waste countless dollars on their marketing budget by sending quality traffic to a website with no emphasis on user experience. This leads to high bounce rates and poor ROI. Launching a poorly optimised website not only makes our digital marketing so much harder but so much more costly and time-consuming because we spend the first part of our campaign fixing the site.
If we drive traffic to a website built without best-practice UX, then how much traffic or the quality of traffic won’t matter. Whatever leads we do achieve will be at an incredibly high cost per acquisition thanks to the poor user journey and experience. This can negatively affect the client’s confidence in the abilities of any digital marketing agency.
When companies launch a new website, they almost never consider the UX in the same way they consider other areas of their website, such as the marketing, development or design. This may be because UX is a difficult concept. It requires knowledge and skill, experience, and a deep insight into human psychology to get it right. Companies are often more likely to spend money on the aesthetics. They make their website look pretty, without knowing how this relates to the overall user experience.
Understanding UX is hard. It requires skill to do it well, and the process is complex. This guide will help you see things more clearly.
Why Does This Matter?
If your company sees substantial growth you may think that customers don’t have any issues with your website. But without any deep UX analysis, this theory is purely subjective and as good as guesswork.
If you company is serious about maintaining the long term health of your digital product, you need objective, data-based insights into how your customers use it. Are they are finding problems? And importantly, do you know how to fix those problems? In most cases, the best way to get unbiased information is to work with an external UX consultant or agency. If you’re too close to your product, you may not see it objectively.
A UX audit helps identify any UX flaws and suggests actionable follow-up activities to improve user experience.
If your company fails to invest budget into UX analysis, then you risk budget blowouts when you get your website wrong. It is not uncommon for a good website to perform twice as well as a bad one. With good UX, you can expect to see improvements in your main metrics, such as cost per acquisition, customer acquisition cost or click-through rate. This has a huge impact on your return on ad spend and, of course, the advertising budget you need to hit business goals. A process that maximises the probability of success is critical.
UX design aims to make digital products more intuitive, easy to understand and enjoyable to use. This is a powerful engine of business growth. The happier your users are with their experience, the less your company will spend on acquiring and retaining customers.
A UX report will evaluate the usability of your digital product from the user’s perspective. When performed at key milestones in your business’s growth, it can help you understand the level of user engagement with your website.
What’s The Solution? A Website UX Audit
You can see how important good usability and human-centred principles are in website design. User experience can mean the difference between success and failure for any online business. But how do you know what you need to do to improve both the website and the user experience? There is only one way to find that out for sure, and that is to have a UX expert audit your website.
What is a UX audit?
A UX Audit evaluates a digital product’s user experience and pinpoints the most problematic areas that cause the biggest negative impact to your business and its objectives. It’s a vital tool for identifying usability problems on your website. It can also help you detect specific areas that are making users leave before completing their journey.
For example, an audit of an online eCommerce store might show that the checkout form is too long on mobile devices and users are clicking off before they buy. It might also show limited payment options or confusion about payment. Perhaps the store cart takes longer than a few seconds to load the selected products and users give up. All these issues can lead to a higher shopping cart abandonment rate on your website,
When to do a UX audit?
Companies often think about user experience audits after their digital product or brand gets negative feedback from its users. This could come from multiple sources, including any app store platforms, suboptimal data in user and web analytics, or criticism from users after a round of testing. These triggers should prompt your business to invest in more in-depth user experience analysis.
A UX audit with in-depth testing and evaluation is one of the only ways to see what is, and isn’t, working on your website. If you’re asking yourself ‘where are my users getting stuck?’, ‘why are they not buying my products?’ or ‘why do they never go on this page?’, you need an in-depth, expert analysis.
It’s always a good time to have a UX website audit, but the most common time is before or after business’ growth. This could be to understand how the customers are engaging after a company rebrand, or after the launch of a new product or service. An audit is also a great tool to help you identify which direction your business should grow. This way, you make sure your business goals align with the goals of your customers.
What does the UX process look like?
There is no defined template for a website UX. It should be flexible and adapted to suit its purpose and always depend on your business goals and objectives. For example, an audit to review an ecommerce checkout process will use very different data and research than one evaluating the effectiveness of a rebrand.
Although the content of the audit will explore different problems and give tailored recommendations and improvements, there is a step-by-step process to define, evaluate, test and finally, offer solutions to the problem.
We have produced an 8-step website UX audit guide to successfully evaluate our clients’ websites. This comprehensive guide makes sure we identify every aspect of the website, its strengths and weaknesses
Steps To A Successful UX Audit
Step 1: Establish business goals and objectives
Before we begin any website review, we must first understand what your business goals and objectives are. This step is critical as it identifies exactly what needs to be evaluated. Only then can we direct the audit towards the correct research and testing to give you a list of actionable recommendations and improvements.
Goals and objectives tend to be around sales, revenue, conversions, and customer satisfaction.
Once we know your main business objective, we drill down to work out how it relates to your website. For example, if your business objective is ‘to increase sales’ we need to understand exactly what that means. It could mean selling more of a specific product or improving customer retention. These are very separate goals and need two very different approaches to a UX audit.
We might interview key stakeholders including project managers, product developers, marketers, or the sales team. This helps us consolidate the information on your goals and objectives and get insight into your customers’ pain points and frustrations with your website.
Step 2: Understanding the users
At the centre of user experience is the user. These are the visitors, clients and customers who engage with your website. Understanding who they are and what they want can help us understand their pain points and frustrations. As auditors, we aim to understand your users better than they understand themselves. Only then can we suggest the improvements and recommendations that will have a positive effect on the user experience.
Your website, or even an area of your website, might have multiple types of users who interact with it. Each will have a different background, problem, and goal. To help us paint an accurate picture of the different customers’ needs, we create user personas to identify exactly who these people are.
To get more insight and help identify the exact problems your users face, we can use tools such as Google Analytics, Optimizely, HotJar, and Crazyegg to get real-time usability data. For example, if we want to know why customers are pulling out of a checkout process, we use Hotjar to review user heatmaps and scroll maps. These can help us locate at what point customers leave. This, in turn, could identify problems with the checkout form or the “next” button.
Step 3: Knowing the user flow
The next thing we look at is the user flow. Simply knowing the customer is not always enough. At times, we need to inspect their website journey to see exactly where the problem is.
The user flow, or customer funnel, will show the user’s objectives and goals in different parts of your website and evaluate the steps they take to complete them. There might also be times where we need to map out the entire website architecture. This gives us a complete visual diagram of all the different pages and actions users can take from any starting point on the website.
User flow helps us map out the exact journey of specific users and provide insight into their pain points, frustrations. It shows us where they drop out of the customer funnel. As in step 3, we can test and evaluate any hypothesis about the user journey with usability tests. This puts the customer at the forefront of the problem to help us identify their negative experience in real-time.
This is stage 3, because we first need to understand the business objective and user before we can see the relationship it has to the journey. This gives us the full picture and omits any guesswork.
Step 4: Review data and conversion metrics
When we know your business goals and the user goals and journey, we can start to review and analyse historic data from search, social, sales and any other relevant traffic source.
The aim here is to provide data-driven evidence and make sure it aligns with our findings from earlier steps. This step should tell us who your users are, what they are looking for, and why they may not be converting as expected.
We need at least 30-days data to be able to identify trends and patterns, as well as metrics such as conversions, sales data, abandonment rate, task time, task success rates, page views, and more.
This step will also help us identify how well pages are performing at both ends of the conversion funnel. Not only can we glean information on the weakest pages that need attention, but we can learn from the best-converting pages. This shows us what the latter is doing better and what strategies or changes we can harness to help improve others.
Step 5: Competitor analysis
In this 5th step, we undertake a comprehensive competitor analysis of your direct and non-direct competitors. This allows us to evaluate how similar websites have applied their own solution to a shared problem.
It also allows us to identify trends and patterns across websites within your industry. This provides more insight into what users expect when interacting with similar websites, and why they are not achieving their goals on yours.
Our competitor analysis always relates directly to the problems our audit is trying to solve. This is so we only look at relevant data to build our final list of recommendations and improvements.
At the end of the competitor analysis step, we should have a list of competitor websites and a detailed table of comparisons.
Step 6: Visual design
The next step is to identify any inconsistencies or improvements in the visual design of your website. We take a deep look at the website user interface (UI). UX and UI are often misunderstood. The terms commonly overlap, confusing their precise meanings.
User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.
This quote, from our door-naming friend and UX expert Don Norman, helps shed some light on the user experience definition and its relationship with user interface. It highlights the middle ground where UX and UI overlap.
For a website to provide the right results and accomplish the business goals, it’s crucial that UX and UI work together. It’s not good enough to only know the user and what they want from a website experience, we must also help them navigate and complete their goals with the use of visual design.
To help us identify weaknesses within your website design that relate directly to the problems our UX Audit is addressing, we do extensive research and usability testing. We ask a number of questions:
- Is the logo and brand name clear and easy to find?
- Do the website colours, textures, and imagery accurately represent the brand?
- Is the site using enough white space to split sections and blocks, or does it feel too cluttered, suffocating the important content?
- Is there a clear visual hierarchy to the headings and body text making it quick and easy to pinpoint the most useful and helpful information?
- Are the buttons and other calls-to-action (CTA) elements easy to see and spaced out?
- Are forms easy to use, well-structured, and intuitive?
- Is the visual design, colours, textures, and fonts aligned to the brand?
- Is the website design responsive and providing a clear and positive experience across all screen sizes and devices?
If we see that the problem with your website relates heavily to design, it can be helpful to do a mental walkthrough from the customers perspective. To help us with this, we can use a heuristics guideline such as Jakob Nielsen’s 10 general principles for interaction design. We can pair this with analytical data such as heatmaps, scroll maps, bounce rates, etc to backup general design principles.
Step 7: Accessibility concerns
In the last 2 steps of our website audit, we look at the biggest issues that can contribute towards a poor user experience. The first is website accessibility.
Currently, around 10% of the world’s population, or about 650 million people, live with a disability. This audience needs websites with accessibility toolsets and features to help them understand the content. In countries like the United States, it is now a legal requirement for companies to make their website fully accessible for all audiences.
Up until now, online businesses have been slow to adopt necessary website standards. This can damage your brand and overall business goals. Websites should be accessible to all users irrespective of their disability or need.
Our audit will reveal any areas of your website that are having a negative effect on users who need extra accessibility. This might relate directly to specific problems outlined in the audit or be just a broad sweep of your website to provide a list of improvements.
To help us do the necessary tests on your website’s accessibility, we adapt tools to identify problem areas. This might include:
- Google’s lighthouse (https://developers.google.com/web/tools/lighthouse)
- Web Accessibility (https://www.webaccessibility.com/)
- Colour Contrast Accessibility Validator (https://color.a11y.com/?wc3)
- Wave Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (https://wave.webaim.org/)
- Siteimprove Platform (https://siteimprove.com/en-au/)
Step 8: Website performance
In the final step of our UX audit, we look at the speeds and performance of your website. A website’s performance can be a key factor in user experience.
10 seconds is the limit for the user’s attention. For delays of more than 10 seconds, users will want to perform other tasks while waiting for the computer to finish. A 10-second delay in the web without any feedback will often make visitors leave a site immediately.
Source: UX Planet.
The loading speed is crucial to eCommerce businesses, where results are measured in online sales. If your checkout is slow, or product pages are taking longer than 3 seconds to fully load, customers will quickly drop out of the purchase funnel. Improving this measurement is essential to achieving your business goals. Here are some other effects of a slow, or poor performing, website.
Less website traffic. If any landing page is slow to load, then the user’s first experience with the brand will be negative.
Difficulty retaining users. A poorly performing website will not only affect new customers, but it will also make it hard to retain existing ones.
Abnormally large bounce and exit rates. There is a clear correlation between poor performing websites and high bounce rates, which is the percentage of website visitors who enter the site and then leave without viewing any other pages. When you understand their relationship, this makes sense. The real problem with this metric is it can be hard to identify the deep-rooted reason for visitor bounce rate. A high bounce rate can indicate many issues. A thorough understanding of the concept is essential, both to identify and to understand the need for improvements for your website. The problem is when bounce rate is largely affected by poor website speeds, it can muddy the data, making it hard to pinpoint the source of the visitor’s abandonment.
When it comes to evaluating website performance, there are a few tools we use to gain insight into what to improve. It could be as simple as using a Content Network Delivery (CDN) like Cloudfare to serve a local cached copy of your website from any one of its global server centres. Other issues could be more deep-rooted and require more time, expertise and help to resolve.
Our preferred tools include:
- Google PageSpeed Insights (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/)
- Pingdom (https://www.pingdom.com/)
- GTmetrix (https://gtmetrix.com/)
- K6 (https://k6.io/)
- Uptrends (https://www.uptrends.com/)
Compile Findings Into A UX Audit Report
At the end of the UX audit performed, we will present you with a complete report of our evaluation, based on your initial agreed business objectives.
In the final section of our report, we compile our findings into a list of recommendations and suggest how to implement these. The suggested improvements will be unique to your website and the problems you hired us to evaluate. Some of the most common recommendations are as follows:
Usability issues. These may be elements on your website causing a user serious frustration or hindering their ability to complete their goals. They range from excessive clicks, inconsistency, or slow website performance.
Quick wins. These are recommendations that you can implement quickly, with little to no-outside help, to help improve user experience. They might be things like updating a broken link, changing the layout of content to be easier for your users to read, or adding a new CTA to improve user journey flow.
A/B split testing. After evaluating your website, we might need to do more testing to work out the most effective outcome. In this case, we will recommend A/B split testing to find the best solution for your users. Importantly, this testing needs the right framework to be successful. As well as recommending further testing, we will also provide the tools necessary to measure the results.
Visual concerns. Our website evaluation might identify visual issues that have a particularly negative effect on your business objectives or customer goals. Our recommendations for this can range from trying new imagery, reducing on-site animations and effects, or in more extreme cases, a full page or website redesign.
User flow dropouts. One of the most common recommendations we offer is based on improving user flow dropouts. This is a common problem with many websites across all industries. It affects all users, no matter what their objective is. There are hundreds of reasons why it happens. We look at your website’s analytical data and any user testing, heatmaps, scroll maps, click maps, etc, for the information we need to fully understand the cause. It could be as simple as a bad link in the flow diagram or as complex as the psychology of a user and how that affects your website goals.
This barely touches the surface of the information we can collate for you at the end of your UX audit. The takeaway here is to understand that your website analysis is unique to your business and objectives. No one UX audit will be the same because no one website is ever the same!
Benefits You Can Expect After A UX Audit
Once we analyse your website and you implement our recommendations, you should see improvements almost immediately.
You can measure the success through your website data, based on the user metrics we identified for improvement. These will have formed the foundation of our report following on from your business objectives. Some of the most common improvements are as follows:
Increased conversions and performance metrics
Based on the goals we established for your website, we will have identified ways to improve your user experience. This will result in increased conversion rates and performance metrics. For example, once you implement our recommendations with regard to customer checkout process, you can expect improved conversion rates across your entire range of products. This means more sales and a better ROI. Other common metrics our user experience reports have helped our clients identify and improve include impressions, user engagement, email click-through-rate, cost per acquisition (CPA), average order value (AOV).
A better overall user experience
A positive user experience is, and always will be, the key component of any UX audit. A user-centric approach is at the very forefront of every analysis we do. It forms the basis of almost all our chosen research methodology and testing processes. A sound understanding of your website users is the only way to recognise their frustrations and pain points when engaging with your digital product. If your UX expert has done their due diligence, they will have identified the main areas of your website that result in a negative user experience. They can give you a list of actionable recommendations.
Improved user satisfaction and engagement
User satisfaction and engagement are the building blocks to a successful website. The benefits of a UX audit will identify usability issues that affect your business objectives. Once you see our report and implement our recommendations, you can expect improved user satisfaction and engagement across your entire customer funnel or the targeted problem area.
Optimised website performance
The improvements we have discussed so far all relate to onsite usability and metrics. Our performance recommendations, on the other hand, target your website’s code and server infrastructure to ensure it has been adequately optimised for speed and performance. This will not just have a positive effect on your users but can help reduce your operating costs. Website performance has a large, measurable effect on conversion rates. Studies have consistently shown that fast page speed results in a better conversion rate. Put simply, the quicker a webpage loads, the more likely a user is to perform the targeted action on that webpage. This makes it an essential objective for any UX audit and can result in quick-fix recommendations. It’s hugely cost-effective to your business.
Improve Your Website User Experience!
Now you understand what a UX audit can do for your business bottom line. If your website is looking like a Norman door, you need a website UX audit. Our Perth-based marketing agency works with companies just like yours. We offer you a total user experience package, which will give you a full list of actionable recommendations. Your business will benefit from a truly unbelievable user experience, that aligns with your marketing and business objectives.
UX audits can contribute towards:
- increased business goals and growth
- lower operating costs
- identifying your biggest website problems
- improved user conversions, engagement loyalty and brand awareness.
Contact Living Online Today and get a website UX audit for your business.