ux audit cover

There's always room to improve your product's accessibility, make the interface more appealing, or provide a better overall user experience. But following your gut isn't enough—to pull it off, you'll need data and user insights.

A UX audit is the process of reviewing your product’s user experience (UX) to identify pain points and bottlenecks. Researchers use audits to gather insights about a product's design, usability, and information architecture—giving UX teams a guiding light for improving the product.

Conducting regular UX audits means you can continue to build user-centric products. It allows you to streamline the user journey, enhance product performance, and ultimately, boost customer satisfaction and retention.

In this article, we’ll cover why you can’t afford to skip your next UX audit and how to perform one that matches your goals—with best practices from industry experts.

A complete UX audit involves a variety of UX research methods and approaches, including usability testing, user interviews, A/B testing, and more.

Why should you conduct a UX audit?

UX audits, also known as UX reviews or UX diagnoses, enable you to assess and take steps to enhance the user experience of your product. The aim is to make your product more usable and accessible, allowing users to accomplish their goals with minimal effort.

You can perform UX audits to:

  • Identify any usability issues that you might have overlooked when introducing a feature
  • Evaluate the accessibility of your product
  • Uncover UX flaws to improve your product's loading time and efficiency
  • Review your product to ensure it delivers a cohesive experience
  • Fix errors and make your product more intuitive to improve conversion and retention rates, reduce bounce rates, and drive customer satisfaction

What insights can you gain from a UX audit?

A detailed review of your product reveals how you can improve the user interface (UI), usability, and user journey to deliver a positive user experience that results in higher customer satisfaction.

In particular, a UX audit can give you insights into:

  • Usability and accessibility problems
  • Faulty links
  • Branding and positioning issues
  • Design system inconsistencies—such as fonts, colors, patterns, etc.
  • Changes in layout and hierarchy
  • Outdated or misspelled content
  • Limitations in the customer’s journey
  • Issues with data regulations and compliance

UX reviews provide actionable recommendations, informed by evidence, that will allow you to implement changes that will eventually lead to a better product. For example, the insights you get can result in actions that reduce the number of clicks to complete a specific task or the time spent on manual data entry.

Better experiences, informed by data

Run surveys and test your prototypes and live websites as part of your UX audit. Make your product truly customer-centric with Maze.

What makes a good user experience?

Your product's UX can have a direct impact on your revenue, as it can make it easier or harder for people to achieve their goals, such as making a purchase or subscribing to a service. A bad UX can damage your brand perception and increase your customer acquisition costs (CAC) as you need to invest more money to get them to convert.

To build a product customers love, you need a good UX, which means your product is:

  1. Useful and solves a problem
  2. Usable and intuitive for its target users
  3. Appealing to the eye
  4. Navigable in the sense that information is easy to find
  5. Accessible to all
  6. Valuable to its target users
  7. Credible and conveys trust

A truly user-centric, intuitive product is one that achieves all seven markers of success. So, it's worth looking into these key UX design principles and using them to steer the criteria of your UX audit.

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Keep this in mind before your UX diagnosis

Now that we've covered why you need a UX audit, let's get into the how. Here's everything you need to know before you start your assessment:

  • Consider UX audit limitations: A UX audit won't give you all the answers about why users abandon your product, but it will tell you if they're leaving because of poor UX. While the audit can flag UX issues, you'll likely need to conduct further research to solve them. So, make sure UX audits contain clear and actionable recommendations.
  • Determine who’s responsible for conducting UX audits: You can have external parties or internal teams carry out the audit. UX teams commonly assign researchers or UX designers as auditors. Depending on the company structure and objectives, your product leads, UX consultants, or cross-functional teams can also lead the study.
  • Leverage existing resources: Time is every product team’s most limited resource, so you want to gather as much information as possible without repeating previous initiatives. It helps to clearly define your user personas, business goals, and UX strategy. You should also check out previous research studies, UX audit data, product metrics, and analytics to set benchmarks to evaluate your digital product.
  • Select your tools: Before conducting the audit, consider your toolkit. Examples include note-taking apps like Notion, web page analytics tools like Google Analytics or Hotjar, video conferencing tools like Zoom, and UX research tools like Maze.

When should you conduct a UX audit?

Depending on needs and goals, UX audits can take many forms, including heuristic evaluation, usability testing, user interviews, and more. All these methods can help improve your product's UX when conducted regularly. However, you should conduct a complete UX review at least once a year.

There's no hard rule for when to review your product's UX, as it'll depend on multiple factors, like how often you launch new features or redesigns. "If your team ships fast and adds many new features, you should do it more often," says Manjot Pal, Product Lead at Houzz.

"I recommend doing audits every three months for teams with high shipping velocity like early-stage startups and every six months for teams with medium shipping velocity like growth-stage startups or big companies," adds Manjot. It's a good practice for any product team to conduct UX audits regularly, but you'll also want to conduct a user experience audit:

  • After adding a new functionality or redesign
  • If you see a drop in retention or conversion rates
  • When you get ongoing negative user feedback regarding your UX
  • After conducting competitive product analysis
  • When new accessibility compliance guidelines are released

How to conduct a UX audit

Now that we've set the basics, it's time to highlight how you can establish a successful UX audit process. Each assessment is unique, but here are seven steps you can follow to make the most out of your UX review:

1. Define the project scope and objectives

UX audits are exploratory by nature, so it’s pretty easy to get derailed. Without a specific and clear goal, your UX audit could go on forever. It’s easy to be distracted by an interesting user comment or a new pain point to investigate. You'll likely uncover issues that require further research during your audit, but put those aside for the time being and stay focused on your objective.

Set goals with stakeholders to ensure you’re on the same page—you could even host a stakeholder interview to gauge their vision, goals, and business needs.

Aim to set goals with “the biggest potential of pushing your business forward,” says Bansi Mehta, CEO of Koru. For example, reducing the user onboarding time or simplifying the sign-up flow.

You can also use this time to define the audit’s scope. Determine when you’ll run the review, how long it’ll last, and what areas of the product you’ll examine. Let’s say your product creates automated business intelligence (BI) dashboards. If your goal is to reduce the user onboarding time, you might want to review the UX starting when the user signs up and ending when they produce the first dashboard.

2. Collect metrics and product data

Before you begin your assessment, review previous UX audits to get the full context of where you’re currently at. Then, collect all relevant product performance analytics and recent user feedback. You might need performance analytics data like time spent on specific pages, heatmaps, number of sessions, or number of clicks.

Collecting these metrics helps auditors better understand how users interact and navigate your product—allowing them to adjust the study goals. For example, data showing that your users can find the sign-up button easily but leave when you ask them to enter their card information might indicate that the flow isn't the problem.

A key indicator of your UX is the number of clicks needed to perform a task. Once you’ve defined your goal and know exactly which parts of the product you'll be reviewing, count the number of clicks or steps a user takes to complete a task. “Compare this against your UX from three to six months before or against your competitors to see how this metric has changed,” says Manjot. “Start removing each step one at a time and see if you can still perform a successful action, e.g., signing up for a new account."

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3. Run heuristic evaluation

A heuristic evaluation is a technique to review user interfaces and catch design problems based on a set of guidelines called heuristics. This method is a budget-friendly way to identify UX issues without recruiting and testing participants—but this doesn’t mean it can replace user research. As an industry standard, three to five evaluators (usually designers and researchers) should perform a heuristic evaluation on the same UI to reduce biases.

As the Nielsen Norman Group explains, “User experience design is highly contextual. To design good experiences, you’ll still need to test with actual users. But heuristic evaluations can complement your team’s research work.” For example, you can conduct a heuristic evaluation of your product to learn which parts of the design you should focus on when testing.

Jakob Nielsen introduced a set of usability heuristics, which are:

  • Visibility of system status
  • Match between system and the real world
  • User control and freedom
  • Consistency and specific standards
  • Error prevention and forgiveness
  • Recognition rather than recall
  • Flexibility and efficiency of use
  • Aesthetic and minimalist design
  • Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
  • Help and documentation

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4. Conduct further research

Evaluating your product's heuristics is a good place to start with your audit, but it's not where it ends. Some other techniques to consider during your audit include:

  • Interface review: Evaluate design elements, typography, user flows, and user interactions. Keep the golden rules and principles of interface design in mind to create beautiful and user-friendly products.
  • Interaction design audit: Review your product design's interactivity and identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement to ensure users can achieve their objectives in the best way possible.
  • Usability testing: Conduct moderated or unmoderated usability tests, ask participants to complete specific tasks, and then analyze your system usability score (SUS). Testing your product's usability can help you identify usability issues and make your product intuitive and easy to navigate.
  • Accessibility assessment: Evaluate how accessible your product is by checking alt-texts, integrations with screen readers, keyboard commands, and overall compliance with accessibility standards. By doing so, you'll design truly inclusive products and experiences.
  • Customer journey analysis: Examine and outline the end-to-end experience of your user and their interaction with your product to spot opportunities to improve your user experience.

Heuristic evaluations, user interviews, and usability tests show how users interact with your product. This information can help you improve user interaction by removing unnecessary steps, reducing the need for manual input, and streamlining tasks.

"Reduce the number of clicks if you observe the majority of your customers are selecting the same set of options," explains Manjot. "You can also automate manual data entry by adding auto-fill functionalities. If a user has to enter their first and last name, can you use Google sign-in to autofill this information to get them onboarded faster?"

While reducing the number of clicks generally improves UX, sometimes clicks are your best option. "If the customer is typing a bunch of information, see if you can turn that typing experience into a clicking experience by structuring the common information entered by the customer. Sometimes a few clicks is better than repeatedly entering a bunch of information," adds Manjot.

5. Identify key trends and patterns

Turning data from user testing and research into actionable insights isn't necessarily easy—especially because hearing user concerns can make you want to ‘fix’ everything all at once. But in order to ultimately solve everything, you need to start by prioritizing something.

Go over your research and identify the main problems by analyzing trends and taking note of the most repeated comments. Use The MoSCow Template or The Kano Model to prioritize your solutions.

For example, if you conduct usability tests on 100 users and 82 think the font size is hard to read, with only two complaining about the search bar, focus on changing the font first. Then, you can choose whether or not you want to conduct further research on the search bar functionality.

6. Build a UX audit report with findings and recommendations

Now’s the time to share your findings and put them into practice. Use the insights you uncovered to come up with a UX audit report containing six main areas:

  • Description of demographics: Briefly describe the user personas and audience demographics—how many people participated in tests and who they are
  • Objectives and methods: Explain why you ran the study, how you gathered insights, and what techniques you used—heuristics, usability testing, user interviews, tree testing, etc.
  • Findings and results: Include the product's performance data and key results from the study, such as results from the heuristic evaluation, usability testing, or system usability score (SUS)
  • Analysis of the user interface and user experience: Include a detailed review of the product's UX design, accessibility, ease of use, engagement, and information architecture (IA)
  • Conclusions: Lay out your insights. What did you learn from evaluating heuristics and testing users? What do you need to change? How can you reduce the number of clicks? How does this help you reach your goals?
  • Next steps: Close the report with a list of actionable recommendations—for example, adding predictive text capabilities to the search bar

Product tip💡

If you’re using Maze in your UX audit, you’re already there! Whether you’re conducting Live Website Testing or Wireframe and Usability Testing, Maze creates automated reports for every test so you can generate a unique, shareable report to collaborate on with stakeholders.

7. Share the report with stakeholders and implement changes

UX audits start and end with a conversation among all stakeholders. Building user-centric products requires internal alignment, so it's vital to share the audit's findings with all stakeholders and outline the next steps together. You should also inform them about any product changes and updates, so the relevant teams can market, sell, and redesign the product as needed. Finally, remember to assign clear responsibilities and deadlines to ensure the audit's results come to life.

UX audits: The journey to a better user experience

Your product’s design isn’t set in stone. What your users find appealing and easy to use today might change over time. Also, as you grow your business and launch new features, your product risks becoming unnecessarily and unintendedly complex.

For your product to consistently offer a good user experience over time, you need to conduct periodic UX reviews. This means checking your heuristics, identifying usability problems and strengths, having a clear goal, and reviewing previous product data to set benchmarks.

You'll also benefit from using a tool like Maze to run usability tests, get insights into your information architecture, and analyze user flows. Maze gives you access to +50 templates to run multiple UX research methods and collect user insights in hours.

Wrap up your audit by identifying trends in the data, building a report with key findings and actionable advice, and sharing the results with stakeholders for further action. Ready to create better experiences for your users?

Better experiences, informed by data

Run surveys and test your prototypes and live websites as part of your UX audit. Make your product truly customer-centric with Maze.

Frequently asked questions about UX audit

What is a UX audit?

A UX audit reviews your product's user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) to identify pain points, strengths, and areas of improvement. The goal is to learn what's working and what's not, so product teams can use the takeaways as a guiding light to create a better user experience.

How do you conduct a UX audit?

To conduct a UX audit, you need to follow these steps:

  • Define the project scope and objectives
  • Collect previous metrics and product data
  • Run heuristic evaluation
  • Conduct further research
  • Identity trends and patterns
  • Build a UX audit report with findings and recommendations
  • Share the report with stakeholders and implement changes

What is a heuristic evaluation?

A heuristic evaluation is a technique to review your product’s UX using a set of heuristics or principles. Jakob Nielsen’s ten heuristics are:

  • Visibility of system status
  • Match between the system and the real world
  • User control and freedom
  • Consistency and standards
  • Error prevention
  • Recognition rather than recall
  • Flexibility and efficiency of use
  • Aesthetic and minimalist design
  • Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
  • Help and documentation