11 min read

User experience (UX) audits are an essential part of any UX improvement project. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. 

Considering that customer experience is now the key differentiator factor between competitors across all industries, your UX can literally make or break your company’s success during the design process. 

In this guide, we show you what a UX audit is, how it can affect product design, when you should do it, and exactly how to do it thoroughly to yield data-driven recommendations for your UX and product team.

What is a UX audit?

A UX audit, also known as a usability audit or user interface audit, is a process designed to evaluate a software platform, mobile application, or website in order to discover any issues or confusion that users might face. UX audits require qualitative research in the form of user interviews as well as quantitative data like product analytics, website analytics, and workflow completion metrics. 

Some common types of UX audit reports include:

The purpose of a UX audit is to discover any major issues that could impact revenue and business goals, as well as to find small areas for improvement or redesign that will improve product stickiness. UX audits seek to uncover difficulties in navigation while also diving deeper into what users’ behavior can reveal about future development needs.

By conducting a heuristic evaluation, a team familiar with the product and the niche can assess the interface in the context of the user journey to provide actionable recommendations to help the product better comply with standard principles of usability. This is the heart of the user experience audit.

Unlike competitive analysis and market research, UX research is usually not focused on making big changes to a product’s core set of features and functionality. Rather, UX research attempts to discover how core functionality can be improved through design and layout tweaks and elimination of bottlenecks. However, during the research process, a UX auditor might come up with feature recommendations. 

When to do a usability audit

When should you do a usability audit? There are several times when it’s a smart call. Here are some of them:

What happens during a UX audit?

As with any type of design audit, the bulk of the work lies in the research. UX auditors will spend dozens (if not hundreds) of hours pouring over user session recordings, interviewing users and members of the design team, and reviewing product data.

UX auditors, particularly those that audit more frequently, might also run UX optimization experiments and review the results of those experiments during the audit process. For example, a product manager might implement a solution (such as redesigning a user flow) from the previous audit. The UX auditor will review the results of that change and compare the results between the recent audits.

Who should do a UX audit?

UX audits can be undertaken by different roles, depending on the size and organization of the company. Very large digital or product teams might employ dedicated UX auditors or freelancers to supplement the existing team. This is particularly the case in ecommerce or other consumer companies, where UX issues can quickly result in millions of dollars in revenue loss. 

At smaller companies and startups, and in B2B SaaS teams, UX audits are more commonly done by UX designers and UX researchers. Product managers might also conduct UX audits or partner with a UX designer or UX team to conduct one. 

How do you conduct a usability audit?

Conducting a UX audit is a long process that can take one person a few weeks to complete. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to get it done. 

ux audit

1. Determine your criteria for a quality experience

The first step is to determine the criteria you’ll use to define a quality experience. This will make it easier to then know what sort of data to collect. It’s also important to get internal alignment on these criteria with the UX audit stakeholders. Before you move on to the next step, everyone should be in agreement about what matters to the target audience in terms of UX. 

With your criteria in place, it’s time to move on to the research roadmap. 

2. Collect quantitative and qualitative data

This step is the most time-consuming piece of any UX audit. 

3. Validate and organize the data

By now, you’ve collected data in lots of different formats: interview notes and transcriptions, videos, spreadsheets, and reports. 

It’s time organize that data in a way that will be easy to review in order to start coming to conclusions. You’ll also want this data easily accessible so that when the other stakeholders ask for proof and evidence of your findings, you’ll have that available. 

Depending on what tools you and your company use to collaborate, you might make a Notion or ClickUp resource page to categorize and link to all of your research. Or, you might upload everything to a digital asset management system and ensure that it’s appropriately named and tagged. 

As you organize your data, you should also be filling out a UX audit issue template for specific issues such as errors or user challenges. (We’ve put a template in Step 5, as this is largely part of the delivery stage. However, you might want to get started logging issues sooner.)

4. Review trends 

The next step is to review the data.

Look for trends like:

5. Format and present your recommendations

Now it’s time to develop valuable recommendations that will have an impact on your user base. You should present your findings from an overarching perspective and provide details on specific issues. 

You’ll want to include all of these in your deliverables for any UX review:

Need a UX audit template? Make sure to include all of these details in your UX audit issue report:

10 UX audit tools to try 

The best UX researchers and auditors rely on powerful software to help them uncover trends, find funnel drops, and collect user sessions 24/7. Check out these UX audit tools:

1. Mixpanel

Mixpanel is a product analytics tool that offers interactive reports, customizable dashboards, user segmentation, and alerts for major issues. 

Learn more about Mixpanel.

2. Hotjar

Hotjar is a popular tool amongst ecommerce companies and other high-traffic consumer sites. Top features include heatmaps, session recordings, and user sentiment surveys. 

Learn more about Hotjar.

3. Maze

With Maze, UX and product researchers can conduct wireframe and usability tests and send surveys to segments of user personas in order to validate ideas before building them. UX auditors can use the tool to set up and monitor experiments. 

Learn more about Maze.

4. Lookback

With Lookback, you can run usability tests on apps and websites. The platform allows UX researchers and designers to talk directly with participants face-to-face, give step-by-step tasks for them to complete, record the user testing sessions, and capture all of the touch indicators and gestures.

Learn more about Lookback.

5. UserTesting

With UserTesting, UX researchers can organize and run user testing sessions, collect feedback from their team, and collect inputs from user segments.

Learn more about UserTesting.

6. UsabilityHub

UsabilityHub, a remote user research platform, offers prototype tests, navigation tests, design surveys, design preference tests, and “five-second tests” that gauge comprehensibility by measuring first impressions. 

Learn more about UsabilityHub.

7. UXCam

UXcam is an app experience analytics platform. Core features include session recording, user analytics, heatmap analytics, funnel analytics, embedded event analytics, and issue analytics for product managers, UX designers, growth marketers, and software engineers.

Learn more about UXCam.

8. Kissmetrics

Used by SaaS and ecommerce companies and SEO strategists, Kissmetrics is a website and app analytics platform. It can be used to capture conversion rates and retention rates in order to optimize pages and funnels.

Learn more about Kissmetrics. 

9. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the most popular free option for website analytics. You can use it to not only understand your traffic, but the actions people take on your website. Discover issues with your important pages and funnels.

Learn more about Google Analytics.

10. Google Optimize

With Google Optimize, you can create website optimization experiments (both design and copy) and discover your best winners.

Learn more about Google Optimize.

How much does a UX audit cost?

If you want to employ a full-time UX auditor, that’ll set you back anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 for a US salary depending on the experience and seniority level of the person you want to hire.

A freelance UX designer might charge $1500 for a UX audit, but this wouldn’t cover the extensive research mentioned in Step 1. That price would likely only cover the designer’s evaluation and testing of your app or website.

To hire a software development agency to provide a UX audit for you (and conduct the user research and gather the product analytics data), you could be looking at a fee upwards of $15,000.

How to hire help for a UX audit

Need better UX? Want to uncover the issues the opportunities?

DevSquad is a SaaS product development company that offers fully-managed 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.

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