Your digital product is drowning. A UX Review is the lifeboat you need.

January 2, 2018

There are many reasons a digital product may not be hitting the heights you hoped for, let’s take a look at few of them.

Reason one: Unrealistic Expectations

Having a good idea isn’t enough anymore. Perhaps it never was.

Having a successful mobile application or website takes a good idea, a well executed plan, a willingness to learn, and above all, a little bit of luck.

You may have not been told that your expectations were unrealistic when you handed over your money to the people who build your product.

Perhaps your budget was limited or your timeframe was too tight.

It is also possible that you paid a ‘reasonable amount’ of money and the timeline was realistic. In which case, the designers may not have been very good or invested in the product.

Good design takes time, skill and a good knowledge of both User Interface and User Experience principles amongst a whole host of other things.

Be sure to talk to their designers and have a clear understanding of what they are going to do before you sign on the dotted line.

Reason two: Signs of Age

It may have been well designed when it was originally built.

However, if this is a few years ago, it may be out of date.

A website or application is a living product.

Design trends change.

Our users needs change.

If you do not keep on top of what your customers want and see how they interact with your product, it is very easy to get left behind.

You need to test your website with real users, gain feedback and improve the product on an ongoing basis.

Don’t make assumptions about what they want.

Assumptions are a shortcut to failure.

Reason 3: Your friend/dog built it moonlighting whilst working as a barista/guard dog during the day.

“If you want something done right, do it yourself”

A great quote which does not apply to non-designers building complex digital products at all.

If you are a small business, money is very precious. Whilst it may be possible to save money by building simple websites yourself, particularly with the explosion of great platforms such as Squarespace and Shopify, it doesn’t guarantee success.

These templates and systems are great for getting you out of the blocks in their respective ways, but if you have something more complex, or require bespoke solutionit it is always better to consult experts.

This applies even more for mobile applications.

Every single person has an idea for an application.

Computer software design is not simple.

Don’t forget that’s what ‘an app’ is.

Enter: The UX Review

A UX review is a review of an existing product (normally a website or mobile application), which will highlight key usability issues and an improvement strategy within the context of user needs and business goals.

A good UX Review helps you in a number of ways.

Consider the Users 

Ultimately, your budget will determine how much time you will be able to allocate towards dedicated research. As a designer, I believe that research should lay the foundation for all design work and that you need to continually stay in touch with users wants and needs. Personas are a great resource, but only if they are kept up to date and based on qualitative information.

Here is one of my creations

Even if you aren’t having researched conducted as part of the UX Review, a good UX Review will give some attention towards the user profile. This will be by synthesising customer feedback and google analytics data of the product to date to gain both qualitative and quantitative information.

In addition to your user profiles, your business goals should also be strongly considered.

User Flows

A user flow is the number of steps a user may take when interacting with your product.

Here is a very simple example, showing (some of the steps) a user may take to buy bananas on an e-commerce website:

The beauty of creating user flow diagrams such as the above is that it shows us each individual step a user takes within a process.

There are often more steps involved in doing things than you would expect.

By showing us all of the steps a user must take to complete a task when completing a task on your product, we can see how well the product enables this.

This provides us with potential areas for improvement at particular steps, or perhaps the steps themselves.

Highlighting Usability Issues

I like to use Norman Nielson’s heuristics framework to guide my analysis. It’s a framework (not a set of rules), which are helpful for both the designer and the person the findings are being presented to. Issues are grouped into their respective areas and then provide a score out of ten. The criteria listed below give you an idea of the framework used.

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

Provide Actionable recommendations

Having someone point out usability issues is only half the battle. A good UX review, taking into account all of the previous points will highlight ways to improve them.

Here is a simple example showing a UI issue I found on a UK based candle website (sorry guys):

You can see in the above example, the “Shop Online” button is completely lost, and would be very hard for users to see. Below you can see my suggestion for how it can be improved.

By using the default button colour of the website the button is more visible. I have also changed the text to “View Offer” Instead of “Shop Online” as I think it’s more clear to the user as to what they are actually going to see when clicking upon it.

Your UX Review will provide you with many examples like the above, so you have suggestions of how your product can be improved right away.

Digital products, no matter how mature, can always be improved. You should expect to see suggestions and problems beyond simple User Interface issues like the one above, which may affect the layout, content or even structure of your website or mobile application.

Summary

Having a UX review conducted on your website or mobile application is a great way to have some expert eyes look it and help you improve it.

There is a big difference between an average website (or any other product) and a good one. The difference between good and great is even larger and much harder to overcome.

These gaps can be overcome given enough time, skill and money.

Money is the driving factor, enabling you to buy the first two.

Getting a UX review is something which can help improve your product.

Whilst being no replacement for user testing and user research, a UX review will give you a greater understanding of your product and some recommendations for how to improve it.

Stay tuned for next article next week when I conduct an example UX Review.

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