“People ignore design that ignores people.” — Frank Chimero, Designer
When it comes to product design, the user interface (UI) is the single most important feature that triggers the digital product’s adoption.
A well-designed UI is the difference between a website that's easy to use and one that's confusing and frustrating. A poorly designed UI can make even the best of products fail in the market. It’s because users don’t have the time to figure out how to use complex products.
Software founders generally hire UI experts to conduct a SWOT analysis of their tech stack and understand user experience from an end user’s point of view. This process is called UI auditing.
A UI audit is a teardown of the user interface to understand what’s causing your users to quit using your software product.
The end goal of a UI audit is to have the direction to build a clean, intuitive, and user-friendly product design which is achieved by following conventions and common design patterns.
When a web application has consistent layouts and consistent UI elements, then the user feels comfortable using the digital application. UI design is about predictability and consistency.
What's in this guide:
- The difference between a UX audit and a UI audit
- The UI audit process
- How to conduct a UI Audit
- UI audit metrics and checklist
- Benefits of conducting a UI audit
- When is a UX audit performed?
- What are the outcomes of a UX audit?
- Top 3 UX audit services
The difference between a UX audit and a UI audit
A UX audit is focused on:
- Assessing a digital product’s performance and usability
- Identify functional roadblocks
- Identify friction throughout the user journey
A UX audit is more about how users experience their journey with a digital product – from a functionality standpoint, examining factors such as navigation, information architecture, and content to ensure that the product is meeting users' needs and providing a satisfying experience.
A UI audit is focused on:
- Analyzing a digital product’s user interface
- Identifying user flow roadblocks
- Optimizing design
A UI audit is mostly performed before the product is launched. This process involves studying a user’s interactions from a design perspective looking at factors such as layout, typography, and color schemes to create a product that is aesthetically pleasing, easy, and enjoyable to use.
By keeping these distinctions in mind, you can assess the usability of a digital product from a UI/UX perspective.
The UI audit process
UI audit is the process of breaking down each user interaction into a design frame, analyzing the design elements for consistency, and weaving it all together to give the end user a seamless product interaction experience.
The UI audit principles
UI audit is based on 6 key principles. They are:
- Predictable design paves the path to early product adoption
A product with a predictable design is better than a product with a creative design. Let’s look at an example.
A pharmacist’s sign is the same all over the world. Whether it’s India, Belgium, or the United States, they all go with the plus sign. This makes it easier to find and reach a pharmacy. Similarly, a user interface should be easy to use. User should be able to achieve their tasks easily while using your digital product.
- Minimize your user’s cognitive effort with empathetic design
People are in a hurry. They don’t have the time to explore and learn to use a complicated product. Therefore, the onus is on the UI designers to keep the design intuitive and instinctive.
Microsoft Edge used to be called Internet Explorer. It’s one of the oldest browsers out there. But it isn’t as popular as Google Chrome because of its UI. The proof is here. It took me three attempts to figure out how to use the search engine on Microsoft Edge.
When I launch the browser, it should ideally allow me to browse – first.
However, I see the below screen that “enables a mysterious IE mode”, and “add a toolbar”, etc, etc. which has nothing to do with allowing me to browse. And the fact is, as a user I don’t want to do all this right now.
When a user wants to browse something on the internet, they’re usually in a hurry and just want to get the job done. It’s the product designer’s responsibility to keep the state of the end user in mind while designing the product. This is called empathy in design.
2. Product usability is directly proportional to its ease of use
94% of first impressions of a brand's website are related to its design.
The reason why many of us still haven’t made a switch to Microsoft Edge despite powerful AI integrations is because of complex UI and delayed usability as discussed in the above example. My first impression of Edge is - “Too complex. I want something simpler”. The moment the user realizes that the product is complex to use, product adoption takes a hit and they abandon the product.
3. Give your users the right balance of freedom and power
Too many options overwhelm and distract the users from their prime purpose. Just like the browser example, we saw above. At the same time, too little power in the user’s hands can make them feel constrained. Striking the right balance in the key to effective UI design.
3. Any element that doesn’t serve a purpose should be eliminated
Apple is probably the biggest advocate of this principle. They keep their UI minimalistic and focus on optimizing their operations and functions. They eliminate all unwanted UI and keep the design clean which makes their product experience highly enjoyable.
4. Use common-world representations to increase the relatability of your product
Familiarity instantly puts the user at ease. On the other hand, using foreign-looking UI elements/design discourages the users from using the product. It’s a natural human tendency.
How to conduct a UI audit
UI audit is done in 5 steps.
- Analyze user flows using product experience tools like Hotjar to extract behavioral insights. This give you data about the exact UI points where your users are dropping off.
- Define the goals and objectives. Based on the product experience analysis, define the goals
- Pick the right metrics to track. UI metrics like design layout, colors, fonts, overall spacing, and user flow play an important role in product adoption. Based on the user flow analysis, zero in on the metrics to pick to achieve the goals and objectives.
- UI evaluation: Once the metrics are picked, gauge and study the effect of these metrics. Assess if they adhere to the common UI standards. For example, check if the users are able to reverse their actions easily.
- User testing through surveys and tests. Customer experience testing platforms like Usertesting.com helps you evaluate the first impressions of your UI. These tests are performed by a close set of users who fall under your target market segment.
- UI audit report with recommendations. Based on the results of the above steps, prepare a UI audit report that addresses the current UI roadblocks and recommendations to resolve them.
UI audit metrics and checklist
When conducting a UI audit, it is important to review a wide range of elements to ensure that the user experience is up to par. This checklist provides an overview of some of the key items to look for during a UI audit.
Layout: Is the layout easy to understand and use? Are things where users would expect them to be?
Colors: Do the colors used on the site or app complement each other and create a pleasing aesthetic? Do they make it easy for users to find what they're looking for?
Fonts: Are the fonts easy to read? Do they add to the overall aesthetic of the site or app?
Design: Is the overall design pleasing and easy to use? Does it make it easy for users to find what they're looking for? Are there any areas that could be improved?
User flow: Is it easy for users to navigate the site or app? Can they find what they're looking for easily? Are there any areas where users might get lost or confused?
Usability testing: Have you conducted usability testing on your site or app? If so, what did the results reveal about the user experience? If not, consider conducting usability testing as part of your UI audit.
Benefits of conducting a UI audit
One of the main benefits of conducting a UI audit is improved usability. By taking a closer look at your site's interface and making the necessary changes, you can make it easier for users to navigate your site and find what they're looking for. This can lead to increased satisfaction and loyalty from your users.
Another benefit of conducting a UI audit during the early stages is that it can help you identify potential problems with your product’s design. And it’s best to fix these problems before they ripen into bigger roadblocks and cause further damage. For example, if you notice that users are having difficulty finding certain pages on your site, you can make changes to improve the navigation before they abandon the site.
Conducting a UI audit helps understand your users and their needs. By observing how they interact with your site, you can gain valuable insights into what works well and what doesn't. This information is crucial in improving future designs.
Looking for a team of product design experts to improve your UI? DevSquad has assembled an experienced product design team that’s built products for brands like ADP, Box, Swell etc. DevSquad is where product strategy meets execution. Get in touch now.
What is a UX audit
A UX audit is conducted to build a user-focused product.
If a digital product isn’t producing the results it used to or you expect to, it’s time to evaluate your user-product dynamics. A UX audit is the process of detecting user pain points and unexpected user behavior that has a direct effect on conversions or product adoption.
The main objectives of a UX audit
- Identify gaps in user experience
- Improve product performance
- Make your product easy to use and navigate
- Make it easy to find the right information
- Understand how your users behave while using the product
How to conduct a UX audit: The Process with Checklist
Conducting a UX audit is a rigorous 6-step process that evaluates the usability, accessibility, and efficacy of a digital product from the perspective of the end-users.
1. Define your product rediscovery goals
The tech world is changing at a rapid speed, especially in the age of AI. The way people use technology is transforming. With that in mind, it’s important to position your product in the marketplace competitively. And it starts with defining your business objectives for the product.
Start off with talking to internal product stakeholders such as product owners and developers, and ask them for information on product requirements, development plan, and outcomes.
The first step to UX auditing is conducting a ‘product rediscovery’ where stakeholders sit down to understand the initial goals for the product. Product rediscovery is all about helping users to remember their initial goals and improving UX to meet those goals, from unifying redundant flows to redesigning interim elements.
- Andrei Iordache, Founder & UI/UX Director, Updivision
2. Conduct a competitor analysis
A UX competitor analysis is a process to assess your product positioning in the market. The process gives you an overview of a product’s:
- Feelings and frustrations the user experiences
UX competitor analysis helps you identify the gaps in your product design and usability. It helps assess the advantages and disadvantages of your digital UI and resolve the usability challenges.
Here’s an example of a competition analysis comparison chart.
3. Investigate and define user goals with heuristic analysis
User behavior keeps changing over time. Heuristic evaluation is a process where experts test the usability of a product’s UI and report their findings, flaws, solutions, and recommendations to improve the user experience.
Some heuristic analysis and UX auditing tools like Heurix and Hotjar help evaluate websites to uncover usability challenges. Alternatively, UXCheck is a chrome extension that helps identify UX issues on a website.
Here’s an example of putting together a heuristic analysis report.
“We use a competitive assessment report where the important data of the product’s major competitors is compiled and presented. This includes reports on the current performance issues, areas for improvement, and the designer’s recommendations. We conduct user behavior analysis through the use of heatmaps. This allows us to identify how the users click, scroll, and move on the website.”
- Leizel Laron, UI/UX Designer at Exaweb
4. Compile a UX report with an analysis
A UX analysis report is a product and user discovery summary of the approach used, research, data, and insights analyzed.
“A UX report is useful when it contains information on specific usability issues and provides actionable recommendations for improvement, such as simplifying forms or
improving visual hierarchy.”
- Mohit Maheshwari, Co-Founder of NMG Technologies
5. State your recommendations and next steps
Andrei Iordache, the founder of Updivision says that it’s important to break down complex tasks into step-by-step wizards to give the user a sense of progress. And that’s exactly what your recommendations should capture to implement.
Applications, especially minimum viable product models, often struggle with onboarding users. Therefore, making support elements easily accessible and cleaning up the navigation are some of the most common UX recommendations.
When is a UX audit performed?
A UX audit is conducted at several stages during the product development cycle and testing phases depending on the state of the business.
For example, if the marketing team has published a usability survey report after receiving feedback from the users, the next step is to conduct a UX audit to see if the product matches the feedback and identify the usability gaps.
What are the outcomes of a UX audit?
A UX audit can help improve the product experience for the user which results in:
- Increased conversion rate
- Decrease in customer acquisition costs
- Reduced bounce rate
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Increase customer loyalty
- Increased sales
- Customer Retention
- Better user engagement
Top 3 UX audit services
- AndersenLab is a professional design services agency that offers a range of UI/UX solutions including UX audits, app design, and redesign services.
- RubyGarage is a software development and consulting company in Europe that builds solutions for startups and established businesses.
- DevSquad is a SaaS/Tech product development company that offers full-stack tech management services. Every development squad is supported by a product manager, DevOps engineer, QA tester, and UX designer.
Learn more about our dedicated UX/UI services.