Is your website not performing as well as you hoped? Metrics like high bounce rates and cart abandonment rates are likely trying to tell you that your users aren't having a positive experience on your site. How can you know for sure? By conducting a UX audit.
In this article, we’ll define what a UX audit is, differentiate it from a user interface (UI) audit and share the step-by-step process UX agencies go through to complete your UX audit.
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What Is a UX Audit?
A user experience (UX) audit is the process of evaluating your website or mobile application’s user experience. Think of it as your website or mobile app’s much needed health check-up.
Typically, a UX audit is conducted by an expert, such as a UX agency.
A UX audit helps you identify problematic areas in your website or mobile application that cause your site visitors to abandon their user journey.
UI Audit vs. UX Audit: What’s The Difference?
A UX audit focuses on how you can improve your website’s user journey (through elements that affect the journey, such as the navigation bar and CTA buttons) from the moment your users get to know your brand until they convert.
Questions to consider when conducting a UX audit include:
- Who is my target audience?
- Is my website’s navigation menu intuitive?
- Are my website calls-to-action (CTAs) specific?
- Are my e-store's payment options limited to only a few payment gateways?
On the other hand, a user interface (UI) audit focuses on how the design elements (think typography, images and color palette) of your website can help with your user’s interaction.
Questions to consider when conducting a UI audit include:
- Are the images used for my website appropriate for my target audience?
- Is my website color palette functional or is it for only decoration purposes?
- Is my website typography ADA compliant or are they too small to read?
When Should Experts Perform a User Experience Audit?
Typically, a UX audit can be conducted at any stage of your website’s life cycle.
A UX audit allows you to determine any bottlenecks or distractions that can prevent your users from taking desired actions (such as purchasing your product!).
But in specific scenarios, a UX agency can perform an audit when you’re redesigning your website or when your website has been live long enough to provide data so experts can assess how your current website is performing.
Let’s say you run an eCommerce website.
If your e-store only allows payment via PayPal and Stripe and your users don’t have access to either payment gateway, then you run the risk of an increased shopping cart abandonment rate.
Shopping cart abandonment occurs when your users leave their virtual shopping carts before purchasing your product. Another factor that can cause this is when your checkout process takes more than three seconds to load.
By experts conducting a UX audit, you can identify and adjust these factors to streamline the user journey, prevent shopping cart abandonment, increase customer satisfaction and boost conversions.
How Much Does a UX Audit Cost?
The cost of your UX audit will depend on the scope or complexity of your website and the team who will take on your audit, whether an agency or a freelancer.
Established agencies might charge you anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000 for a UX audit. You can expect to receive the UX audit in two to four weeks.
Expert agencies offer comprehensive UX audit reports and typically provide recommendations to improve your website’s performance.
Typically, outsourcing freelancers to conduct your UX audit will cost you around $1,000 to $3,000.
This rate provides you with a UX audit and a list of usability issues, with a detailed explanation of each issue.
Once you receive your UX audit, ensure that you walk through each issue with your selected agency or freelancer and ask which UX research methods have been utilized to analyze your website’s performance.
How Experts Conduct a Website UX Audit: A Step-By-Step Guide
Now that you understand the basics behind a UX audit, it’s time to dive deeper and take a look at how the experts conduct it.
Here are the five key steps that agencies or freelancers follow to conduct your audit.
Before diving into your UX audit, the UX agency must understand your offerings and business goals so they can start setting up the key objectives, while managing your expectations.
This step will help the agency understand the direction of your UX audit, which research methods they can utilize and whether they can meet your requirements and goals.
In this stage, they will conduct interviews with you to get a better understanding of your business and existing challenges.
In addition to conducting interviews, the agency will research your target audience, find out the possible reasons for your website’s low conversion rate and test your current user journey.
2. Gathering Data
Once the UX agency understands your goals and pain points, they can now start gathering the data they need to perform the audit, such as your website’s conversion rates and web analytics.
Here are some key sources of metrics and materials the agency can use to conduct a UX audit:
- Heuristic product evaluation: Heuristic evaluation is a method where experts utilize guidelines to measure the usability of a user interface or user experience for reporting purposes. Experts use Nielsen’s heuristics to view your website or mobile application from your audience’s perspective. Some of Nielsen’s heuristics include user control and freedom, consistency and standards, and flexibility and efficiency.
- Website and mobile analytics: While heuristic evaluation offers qualitative data (characteristics and qualities), analytic tools such as Google Analytics provide measurable data. Quantitative data includes traffic flows, traffic source, trends over time, conversion and abandonment rate and user behavior. In addition to Google Analytics, the agency can use other tools such as Crazy Egg and Kissmetrics to gather analytics.
- Conversion rates: Before the agency determines your conversion rates, they will need to figure out what exactly you want to measure first. Questions to consider include: what do your users do when visiting your website? Do they purchase a specific product or service, book a consulting session, or sign up for email updates? If you own an eCommerce site, for example, your conversion rate is measured by how many of your users purchase your product. The agency can track your website’s conversion rates with Google Analytics.
3. Interviews And Usability Tests
Now that the UX agency has gathered quantitative data, it’s time for them to dive deeper into your user’s experiences by communicating with real people.
In addition to acquiring feedback from actual users through surveys, the agency must speak to your website developers to gain insights into ongoing development challenges.
Data gathered from user surveys and interviews will be validated through usability tests or design tests performed by representative users, such as UX researchers and quality assurance participants.
Conducting usability tests uncovers existing challenges (such as a complicated checkout process), identifies opportunities to improve your UX (like adding more payment gateway options) and provides you with a better understanding of your user’s preferences and behavior (greater likelihood to convert with a simple checkout process and multiple payment options).
4. Organizing And Analyzing The Collected Data
The UX agency will then organize all the data gathered about your website’s UX, typically using spreadsheets for organization.
While manually saved spreadsheets (think Microsoft Excel sheets) might seem like a thing of the past, uploading spreadsheets to the cloud ensures everyone involved in the UX audit stays in the loop.
If uploading Microsoft spreadsheets isn’t your cup of tea, the agency can utilize Smartsheets, a web application that streamlines reports, workflows and project progress.
Once the data has been collected, the agency can start analyzing the findings to pinpoint your user’s frustrations when interacting with your site.
In addition to A/B testing (comparing two website versions), they can conduct a screen-by-screen analysis of your website (for example, testing how responsive your website is on different devices) to get a better idea of which version is more accurate and has a better user experience.
5. Recommending Improvements
Once the agency analyzes the data, it’s time for them to organize their findings and recommendations to improve your website’s user experience.
In this stage, the agency walks you through each UX area for improvement while explaining each point with its possible result.
To implement these recommendations, the agency will hand over the completed UX audit to your development team.
Typically, improvements for your UX cover three areas: responsive web design, messaging and accessibility.
Responsive Web Design
According to Statista, mobile devices generated 54% of the global website traffic in 2021 alone.
What does this mean? That a website should cater to every device and screen size.
This is where responsive web design plays a crucial role.
Responsive web design is a modern take on web design that ensures your website pages display accurately on any device and screen size.
Responsive web design improvements include running QA tests on your website’s responsiveness to ensure that your website looks accurate and works properly on all devices — whether old or new — and measuring website performance.
While messaging may seem like an unlikely factor when conducting a UX audit, it matters because it plays an impacting role in your customer’s user journey.
Typically, a UX audit identifies messaging issues such as missing headers, chunks of text and vague product descriptions, which can explain why you have low-performing pages.
If you have product descriptions that are recycled from manufacturers or if your web copy is too long or difficult to read, you risk boring your existing and potential customers (remember, no one has time to read a long, chunky paragraph).
60% of people worldwide who have access to the internet live with some kind of disability — and regardless of your industry, chances are there are customers with some kind of disability or limitation who visit your website.
Whether your user is learning-impaired, blind or deaf, your website is legally required to cater to people with disabilities. You can find the accessibility testing guidelines in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which were refreshed in 2017 and finalized in 2018.
Top UX Agencies To Conduct Your UX Audit
Looking for a UX agency to help improve your website’s performance? Here are the top five that made it to our list and that provide the best website UX.
Headquarters: Los Angeles, California
Founded in 2016, WANDR is a UX design and product strategy firm that consists of an international team of experts.
WANDR has partnered with big names such as Samsung, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the United States Air Force.
WANDR’s services include:
- UX audit
- UX/UI design
- Web design
- Web and app development
Headquarters: San Francisco, California
Launched in 2009, RNO1 is an agency that provides digital services, from branding and marketing to UX/UI design and web development.
Their clients include venture capital-backed tech startups, web3 startups, crypto and blockchain companies.
RNO1 has offered its services to Airbnb, Microsoft and Interos.
RNO1’s services include:
- UX/UI design
- UX audit
- Web and app development
- Brand strategy
- Content strategy
Headquarters: Talinn, Estonia
Started in 2014, Brocoders is a software development firm that consists of highly-qualified and talented experts who have a passion for programming, development and design.
With almost nine years of experience, they are skilled in both back end and front end applications and websites.
Brocoders’ services include:
- UX audit
- UX/UI design
- Product development
- Web and mobile app development
Headquarters: Charlotte, North Carolina
Founded in 2011, Dev.Pro aims to help technology-driven companies to grow their products and online presence.
They work with clients in the healthcare, retail, technology and fintech industry.
Dev.Pro’s services include:
- UX Audit
- UX/UI design
- Cloud development
- Software testing and QA
- Reporting and analytics
5. Dotlogics Inc.
Headquarters: New York City, New York
Founded in 2007, Dotlogics Inc. is a digital agency that helps you improve your online presence by creating effective and engaging websites.
From redesigning McDonald's website to developing Gardenia’s site, Dotlogics Inc. has worked with many well-known industry giants.
Dotlogics Inc.’s services include:
- UI/UX Improvements
- Web Design
- eCommerce Design
- Mobile App Design
- Content Strategy
- Creative Advisory
Wrapping Up on UX Audits
Conducting user experience audits is no easy feat (that’s what the experts are for!), especially since a lot of data is collected throughout the process.
To recap, here are five steps experts follow to conduct a UX audit:
- Understand your business
- Gather data
- Speak to your internal team
- Conduct usability tests
- Organize and analyze the collected data
- Recommend improvements
If you run a website but aren’t getting the results you want, investing in a UX audit is something you can consider to improve your website performance, engage users and generate better leads.