As an entrepreneur living in a digital age, you must base your efforts on hard data. Thousands of metrics determinate success (or failure) of every product and service on the web. It doesn't make any difference if you're Silicon Valley CEO with recently received C-round of funding, Asian Digital Signage distributor or small book publisher just opening e-store after five generations of doing things more old fashion way.
We consume, absorb and make decisions at the speed of light. We live the life in the spoiling and distracting environment, filled with buzzwords and easy-click buttons. The proper layout, well-displayed content and user-friendly architecture of your service are crucial for your business.
That’s why skilled User Experience Designers are one of the most desirable professionals on the market, right after Software Developers. Every business which distributes, sells, advertises online is forced to show great acumen while designing its services, and the role of UX's is to make it happen. At first sight, creating a simple menu or e-store seems to be a piece of cake. If you believe so, then you're one pixel away from tragedy.
One small pixel for a man, giant leap for your business
The main goal of collecting the data, analysis, and preparation of the audit is to capture relevant information that will support the process of providing adjustments or redesigning smartly. Smart means adjusting to the users and their needs by noticing and understanding their behaviour patterns, annoyances, and mistakes.
The easiest way to analyze what’s ‘hot’ on the website is to look at the heatmaps by using such tools as Hotjar. The ‘warmer’ the colour, the more ‘popular’ that particular element is. Hotjar calculates the total amount of clicks on the component and counts percentage share of the clicks. Above that, Hotjar provides information about the elements which seem to be clickable at a glance, but in fact, they are not.
Nevertheless, discovering ‘cold’ areas within the heatmaps allow us to ‘clean up’ our services from elements that aren’t used as well as find out that valuable functionalities are ignored by the users that are unaware of their clickability.
You would never know… I would never show…
Alright, analyzing the traffic with tools like Hotjar seems to be an easy effort and at first sight, it looks like every individual possessing basic knowledge of design and web development can perform such audit. No, it’s not that simple as it seems. There are several rules that UX designer must follow. Besides, they must prove that they have a great understanding of customer’s business core and goals.
The first step is to understand your business’ needs and goals, and to define and understand the users who are your audience - from employees in particular departments, people interested in your business, to potential collaborators.
The second step is to analyze the available data from sources such as Google Analytics and the questions people are asking for specific information on the page. Information about bounce rates, search phrases, traffic sources, and user paths will allow you to pinpoint those items where you should focus first.
Because every case is different…
Metrics are metrics, but what about the obstacles that Hotjar and other tools can’t measure? Maria, one of our UX Designers, told me a story about a website dedicated to young mothers. Our customers couldn’t understand why every session (single visit) takes so much time?
At first, the client started to believe that the interface isn’t functional enough. In spite of very clear design and acumen in buttons location, a significant amount of visitors spends an enormous amount of time on every visit on the website. Finally, the video record of the visit showed what was actually going on: the majority of sessions have been interrupted by crying toddlers absorbing mother’s attention.
Similar factors do apply to specific groups of interest, such as people suffering rare diseases, elder people, travelling professionals, etc. That is why the precise description of an audience (“persona”) is so important while designing.
Knowledge as a weapon
Well-performed UX audit supposes to put into your hand a valuable deck of knowledge called UX Audit Report. The report can be delivered in the form of presentation, text document or even a video. The main goal is to clarify the obstacles and point out opportunities noticed during analyzing and suggest valuable solutions.
Instead of high-level impressions which don’t add any value, the report aims to output specific samples proving users’ confusion and demonstrating lower service experience. Location of buttons, wrong-chosen colours, confusing architecture has to be presented one-by-one. Each error must be followed by a solution (best reports provide in some cases ad hoc solutions, which can be implemented immediately as well as long-term solutions, which require the further intervention of a developer).
A well-performed audit is a useful tool in a hand of the entrepreneur. Report’s main goal is to deliver a good understanding of things which have been done wrong. Nowadays such reports might be urged by representatives of the variety of industries. Therefore, a UX Designer is entitled to show as much understanding and empathy towards his client as the client has to his users. The receiver must understand report’s contents and be able - one way or another - to implement the right solutions.