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Issue 41

The User Experience Audit

Mircea Gui
UI/UX Designer @ Yardi Romania
PROGRAMMING

The growing need of UI/UX designers in Cluj is proof of the maturity of the IT field, registered especially in the past years. This article is meant to help both companies and products that need UX designers and UX designers themselves. A designer’s efficiency derives not only from his creative processes, but also from his ability to analyze and rehash product information. The following paragraphs will reveal more about the preliminary stage, the stage of research and analysis (the User Experience Audit). This process has the very clear role of identifying if, and to what extent, a product may need an upgrade regarding its direct relationship with the user/client.

The software products must be created and developed alongside the business needs and its clients’ needs. How can we tell which parts or components must be upgraded, re-considered, or re-created? It all starts with a User Experience Audit. This is not a new step specific to the software development process, but rather a basic component of industrial design ever since its early stages. The purpose of the audit has a double function: to create a very detailed analysis stemming from the intersection between business and client requirements and to obtain precise objectives from the users. This may be a long process, but it helps identify a clear course of action and a better plan for developing the product. This type of analysis includes aspects like: precise design rules, functional conformity, information architecture and usage patterns.

The questions that must be answered following a UX audit are:

The audit starts with the research and documentation stage. This process will generate information that will be useful for creating research models for the user, like user persona and surveys. Most companies have access to data analysis methods for marketing, analytics, and product usage. Usually, this type of data is not analyzed from the perspective of the user or with the user’s mentality in mind.

We will go through a series of sources of information and relevant data:

After finishing the research part, a key way to do the audit is to start a congnitive walkthrough the features of the product by taking the perspective of the user and by trying to make the product do what it was designed to do. The basic functionalities are tried and tested, one at a time, using realistic actions that the user might perform. We must pay attention to the decisions we make and the reactions we have and take notes. What obstacles do we encounter? What are the interactions that cause frustration? If possible, this process must be repeated using people who are not familiar at all with the product. During our interactions with the product we must pay attention to the following aspects:

Whether you decide to create a detailed list of the elements mentioned above or simply to succintly list them, a UX audit is the first step in understanding the design process of a complex product. Although this process seems difficult and demanding, finalizing it will offer a clear image and the right context for making informed decisions. Going through this process does not require years of experience, but it demands patience, grit, curiosity, and attention to details – all of which are vital features of a good UX designer.

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