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You’ll know you need a usability audit when you start to see decreases in the numbers of visitors on your website or lower statistics regarding sold products. On the other hand, you might want an usability audit just for finding out how visitors perceive your site, its functionality, and what can be done to improve it. An usability audit is an evaluation of the design of a website (in general, the elements, structure and design itself are responsible with a larger part of user’s experience, beyond functionality) from the user’s viewpoint, which helps identify the issues in navigation and also issues improvements and solution-oriented reports.
How is an usability audit conducted?
A user experience audit can be conducted on an individual or on multiple platforms (e.g. desktop, smartphone, tablet etc.), on a prototype or for a live website or application. Additionally, it can be conducted for the whole website or just for certain parts of it (e.g. a user experience audit just for the content, or just for the shopping cart, or forms etc.). During this assessment, some of the following issues will be checked:
- are the pages easy to remember, is their functionality correct and is the navigation easy to made?
- are the pages easy to be learned and can the user be able to understand no more than in a few second how the website works?
- is the website helping users to achieve their goals?
- is the page consistent, as well as its content?
- are the forms and action messages well explained?
- is your website easy to run by people with disabilities (it is accessible to them)?
- are the website’s elements easy to browse?
- and so on.
All the elements which are analyzed during the audit are specific to that project, according to the client’s business goals and are focused on how the client wants to organize and lead his or her company. Any usability audit is made by considering the company’s needs, because every company is different and designed to transmit certain values to its users/customers.
Why are usability audits important?
Among the most important benefits of an usability audit there are the following:
- uncovering problem issues that were noticed by users and which might make the website more easy to understand and browse.
- achieving better user engagement and an easier and quicker way to gain the information on the website (improving the SEO by adapting the content).
- achieving consistency in customer experience on the website during visits.
- increasing the trust of user regarding the product/service. Once the website has a “new image” and the navigation process is fluid, the user will have trust in the brand, seeing that it makes visible efforts to improve their experience.
- reducing shopping cart abandonment, which means increasing the sales. Usually, the users abandon a shopping cart because the whole shopping process is not an easy one and during it, a lot of required elements can be displayed without a clear explanation.
- reducing the costs and time for future developments of the website or application (especially for the ones for which an usability audit is made in the “prototype” phase).
- reducing the support calls, because of the transparency and user-friendliness of the website.
To conclude, an usability audit will help both the company and its customers, and once the last ones are happy, the company goals are achieved, which makes these audits highly desirable for any company that wants to grow both on the short and on the long run.
Author: Andreea Popescu