The word "audit" doesn't usually ignite enthusiasm and is mostly taken as a no-fun inspection. A design audit is completely the opposite. It's about getting beneficial outcomes that will improve your website or product and the way people interact with them.
As your company grows, so does the value you want to deliver to your users. You start adding more features and capabilities. But at some point, you may notice your users don't convert. It may sound weird, but more capabilities lead to a worse customer experience.
It's not easy to get where design fails. What if the reason lies in poor or outdated design? Does it need minor improvements or major redesign? Or what way to go to find any usability issues?
Here's where design audit comes into play. Let's briefly define it and then explore some examples.
What is a design audit?
Simply put, a design audit is a usability checkup. It involves design evaluation and structuring that provides actionable business insights. It's performed to make sure your website or product remains consistent at any given touchpoint. The results of the design review (when implemented) lead to an easier user journey and thus increased customer engagement, satisfaction, and conversion.
A design audit is needed to keep a balance between the functionality of your digital product and the growth of your company.
The way customers access information is constantly changing. A website or product design that won over its users three years ago, may not perform that well today. So, a design audit should be perceived as a repetitive and ongoing process.
Here at Eleken, our team of experienced designers can help you to identify usability problems and offer actionable solutions to fix them. Also, in this article, we’ll share the example of a product design audit we’ve done for a SaaS company.
But first, let’s touch on the website checkup.
Website design audit. What is it about?
Your website is like a front door to your business. A consistent and professional look makes it welcoming and trustworthy. Moreover, a self-explanatory and smooth design leads to better conversions. That's what you need, right?
The best way to eliminate the gap between visitors' expectations and your website capabilities is to conduct a design audit of the entire website.
Each website has its end goal. For consultancy businesses, it can be the form filled, for SaaS businesses - the trial signup, for other companies it can be simply brand awareness. A website with an impressive design won’t bring any value for visitors if its content is far from what they could expect or you are trying to reach the wrong audience. The meaningful combination of all these will help users to achieve their goals. The web design audit is meant to reveal such pain points in a way to the desired conversion.
Web design audit checklist
When website goals are set, it’s high time for expert designers to conduct an audit. Let’s have a quick look at the basic example of the design audit checklist each designer should follow.
Information architecture and navigation
- Navigation is consistent across the website
- A search bar is always visible and accessible
- Information is well-structured and credible
- Website content is easily scannable
- Location and contact information are easy to find
Forms and elements
- Typography is the same throughout the website
- All the icons are of identical style and clearly convey their meaning
- Dropdowns and buttons are of convenient size and easily clickable
- Text on buttons clearly describes necessary action
- The website is mobile-friendly and responsive for other devices
- The contrast between text and background is good
- Text language is plain and easy-to-understand
- Links are not broken and direct to intended pages
- Images are relevant to the content and are of a good quality
- The signup process is simple and trouble-free
- Input forms ask only relevant information
- The overall website design follows branding guidelines
- Design is accessible for people with disabilities
A design audit is not limited to visual website review. Every good designer sets focus on users. Understanding their needs and goals generates effective design solutions and leads to better usability. This website design audit template includes analysis of user persona and serves as a good reference, in general.
Sometimes you may think of complete redesign instead of minor usability improvement. In this case, designers will take an in-depth analysis that starts with a briefing to understand business objectives and benchmarks. This practice will give an insight into what your new website should achieve or will pinpoint some vulnerable areas that require improvement.
So, how can you know what to improve? The audit report gives an answer.
Design audit report
Design audit always ends with compiling gathered data and providing actionable solutions and recommendations. Designers analyze all the findings, take screenshots, create wireframes or prototypes (when needed), and prepare an audit report.
To get a bigger picture of how such report may look like, please, consider checking an example of a website design audit report. This comprehensive studying of user interactions with the website includes usability testing and customer journey analysis to reveal critical conversion issues.
Now, let’s move on to product design audits and explore examples.
UX audit of a product
UX audit of a product is not that different from the website checkup. However, it depends on the product type, audit goals, and requirements. Still, let’s get familiar with the basic UX audit process:
- Understanding user and business objectives
Before getting down to UX review, designers need to understand who your users are, their goals, and how your business works. Interviewing or briefing together with analyzing your current metrics is enough to get the benchmark data.
- Conducting heuristic evaluation
There are rules of thumb all digital products should follow. To make the product more user-friendly designers check its compliance with tried-and-true usability patterns. The team tries to see the product from the user's perspective, so they are up to complete different tasks to achieve user goals. During the process, designers jot down and screenshot every difficulty or problem they spot and compile their findings.
- Preparing UX audit report and recommendations
All the findings are analyzed for insights to make actionable recommendations that will help to meet your business needs and refine the product’s design and usability. UX audit report can include valuable means like wireframes, prototypes, or sitemaps to show the user journey.
To get the understanding of the deliverables you can get, check this example of a detailed UX audit report of a product.
Well, apart from the product itself and its users, the user experience review is great for people who put their efforts towards building the application. So, who should consider the UX audit? Read on.
Who can benefit from the UX audit service?
- Product teams can see how their product differs from competitors and where to streamline resources for design improvements.
- Product managers/founders need a detached view on the possible issues, as they can have a blurry vision because of working closely with a product.
- Product owners can identify and bridge the gaps in conversion funnels.
- Entrepreneurs that want to make changes in prototype before passing it on to development.
- Investors that are looking for an experienced partner to lead their teams on improving design solutions.
Eleken’s close collaboration with product managers led to creative and effective results. Next, we share the example of a UX audit we conducted for one of our clients.
UX audit we did at Eleken
The majority of SaaS companies start small and expand over time. They grow by adding more features or additional products to support more capabilities. This is the case of TextMagic, a mobile marketing service, we’ve been working with.
They came up with a plan to develop additional products for marketing, customer support, and sales. At the same time, they wanted to avoid complexity and keep the customer experience simple and easy to use.
As we joined the TextMagic team, we started with a UI/UX audit of their existing application.
Our UX audit process comprised the following steps:
- Competitor analysis. We looked at Intercom and JivoChat for live chats, Mailchimp, Autopilot, Sendgrid, and Sendinblue for email marketing and Zendesk for everything, because it was our main point of reference. We analysed their patterns and user flows to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
- Defining the value proposition of a product. It clearly explained how a product should fill the need of its target audience - the marketers and the sales team.
- Creating user stories and a user journey we depicted what tasks the user wants to accomplish and what functionality we need to add or transform.
- UX analysis of existing capabilities. Our designers were looking for usability inconsistencies and logical gaps using heuristic evaluation to compare it against accepted usability principles.
- Compiled report with explained improvements and created a new UI Kit.
In TextMagic, they already had a well-developed design system. We followed its rules when crafting user interface elements. Putting the design system in practice allowed us to speed up the process so it turned out to be very productive.
We were always in touch with the TextMagic's team to agree on the steps, wireframes, and user flows. Such an effective cooperation allowed us to adjust the process of successful implementation of UX audit results.
At Eleken, we came to the conclusion that additional products can worsen customer experience. So, we ended up designing one platform that unites sales, marketing, and customer support functionality. This way we reduced complexity and improved the productivity of the TextMagic customers’ team. Based on the insight from our UX audit, we created intuitive flows and minimalistic interfaces that do not overwhelm the user and help them to get the job done quickly.
The design audit process and the results we’ve achieved, we describe in detail in our TextMagic case study.
Why is design audit so important?
It’s normal to conduct design reviews of a website or product from time to time. In any case, the need for an audit means that your company is levelling up and you want to keep it on the right track. So, recurring audits can influence the successful growth by:
- Identifying usability issues
- Improving user engagement and satisfaction
- Helping designers to understand information hierarchy better
- Helping to set the right focus on future design enhancements
- Improving overall perception of a brand
- Maximizing conversions and ROI, as a result of all the above.
How long does it take to conduct an audit?
Depending on challenges and the scale of usability issues, a design audit may take from several days up to four weeks of in-depth evaluation. This timeframe is enough to identify 80% of design inconsistencies. Still, our experts approach each client’s request individually and define optimal project terms.
To sum up
As long as you are present in a digital world, you must ensure that the user experience is awesome. And, if you want to know more about your customers and grow further, you will definitely reap benefits from a website design audit or UX audit of a product no matter when it is done.
Also, get inspired by the examples of high-converting websites we’ve shared in our blog.