Five steps to start your next usability audit
Usability audit is one of those official sounding/buzzword-y terms that gets thrown around in meetings that maybe you aren't quite sure what it means, but sort of get. The thing is, a usability audit can mean a number of things, but at its core, a usability audit is a method to evaluate your site or app to determine how well it accomplishes the purpose it was created for. Based on that definition, there are a number of ways to perform a usability audit, but the main goal is always to determine if your site or app is giving the user what they need.
At Integrity, our usability audit methods vary based on a client's needs, user base, budget and goals, but we do follow a general process. Below, we've outlined five basic steps to get started on your next usability audit.
Our usability audit process
Conducting a usability audit might be a broad technique to ensure your whole site is meeting your company goals, or the usability audit may be used to evaluate a specific function for a small fraction of your audience. No matter the size, we have some guidelines to follow when implementing a usability audit:
1. Determine if the usability audit should be performed in-house
There are many ways to become a usability expert yourself, but an experienced team might make it easier to objectively evaluate your site. It is essential to look at your site as if you were the target market, to get out of your personal perspective and evaluate it based on your audience's preferences. Plus, you're on your site every day, so you may be missing some key user pain points. It can be hard to learn to separate yourself, which makes deferring to an expert a great option.
2. Review or define your company and site goals
At this point, establish or review your company's goals and the goals your company has for the site. If you don't have a clear idea of what your company needs and what needs the site is supposed to fulfill, there's not much point to conducting a usability audit. Once the goals for both are clear, you will have something to measure your site by.
3. Determine who is using your site
There are many labels for these people, target audience, target demographic, user persona, etc., but what actually matters is identifying your ideal customer and figuring out how you can fill their needs through your site. Establishing who matters to your company will help you narrow your focus so you can trim excess or unnecessary content and functionality.
4. Evaluate your site
Now that you've established who is doing the usability audit, your company and site goals, and who is using your site, it's time to find out if your site is meeting its goals the way it was meant to. Below in "What should you audit?" we've created a quick guide to help you get started on your usability audit or what you should expect from the company performing your usability audit.
5. Review your findings
Once the evaluations are complete, it's important to document your conclusions so the next time you do a usability audit (no, this is not a "one and done" type of deal!) you'll have a reference to compare to.
Take the time to group your findings by category to make them easier to review. Categories could include: information architecture, navigation, forms, design or layout, and errors. We recommend you also assign a level of priority to each finding:
- Minor - reduce user satisfaction, but not hugely irritated
- Major - reduce user satisfaction and hinders completion of goals
- Fatal - user is unable to do the action he/she came to the site to do
While this may seem like a lot of work, it's worth it to be able to make sure that you are investing your time and money in the appropriate areas when it comes to your digital presence. So, now you're ready for your next usability audit! Next week, check back for Five ways to know it's time for a usability audit.
Want to team up with the usability experts at Integrity for your next usability audit? Let us know!
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