Design

Why Your UX Audits Never Happen and How to Fix It

Learn how to use micro UX audits in your design process for quick wins and ways to get buy-in from stakeholders to make them happen more often.

4 min
January 9, 2023
Billy Sweetman
Head of Design

As a designer you probably already know about the value of UX audits.

They improve the product, make customers happier, and can impact the growth of a business.

So why are we skipping UX audits?

Honestly, it's because we’re busy people.

You can quickly read this post or hear me talk about this topic more in-depth in the video below.



Maybe your company is growing fast, (if it is, congratulations!) but that may also mean your team could be swamped with a lot of features to ship or maybe you’re barely keeping up with the bug fixes.

It could be as simple as not having anyone on your team with experience running a UX audit, and the idea of building a repeatable process feels daunting.

How can you make UX audits a habit?

You realize how valuable user experience audits can be, but it’s not uncommon to feel like you can’t seem to fit one in.

Steps to make audits possible

  1. Have audit options to that can fit into your constraints
  2. Gather evidence to pitch to stakeholders
  3. Get buy-in from stakeholders

Let’s walk through audit options first.

We’ve developed two ways to use UX audits in our design process. We hope you find them helpful as you learn what works best for you and your team.

comparing scope a full ux audit to a micro ux audit

2 types of UX audits for your design process

Micro UX audits (try this first)

We've found that smaller-scale UX audits or "micro audits" within your design process are more beneficial than only doing large comprehensive audits. Implementing micro audits will keep your team in a continuous discovery loop and continuous improvement.

When to use micro-audits

  • Adding a new feature
  • Adding or documenting a pattern for your design system
  • Feature enhancements based on feedback

Who’s involved?

  • Designer
  • Customers

Typically micro-audits only need to have one designer involved to be effective. A developer could possibly get pulled in if needed. Either way, you also will need to talk to customers to verify your findings and recommendations for improvements.

Large-scale UX audits 

Our team often performs comprehensive user experience audits for our clients because we know a thorough UX audit can assist you in identifying and addressing areas of concern like design debt before they turn into costly issues.

When to use large-scale audits 

  • A product refresh
  • Kick-off of a design system effort
  • When there is negative feedback on a new feature release (hopefully this isn't the case)

Who’s involved?

  • Designer
  • Developer
  • Product manager (if needed)
  • Customers

When doing comprehensive work, there tends to be more complexity. It’s also important to get perspective from design, development, and a product manager. The bigger the effort, the more customer feedback you may need to be effective.

Note:

The more comprehensive your audit becomes, you may find your team involving code audits or even positioning audits as you realize who your ideal customers are and the features they want.

designer meeting with stakeholders about UX audit in conference room

Getting buy-in from stakeholders or managers

So you’re thinking about starting with a micro-audit. How do you convince leadership to let you commit some of your time to get started?

Tie value to improving key product metrics (retention, onboarding, etc)

By linking the audit’s value to an already prioritized metric, you’ll be able to immediately get your leader’s attention, and make a great case for adding a UX audit to your team’s process.

Share data from user interviews to validate the case for doing an audit 

When you have feedback from customer interviews that identify potential problems or areas of confusion, it can be helpful to prove the value for your team to address those problem areas and uncover any additional issues that maybe have not been identified yet. 

Share data from session observations

Something cool that Wistia has done was starting a weekly habit to review a customer behavior they know would impact customer retention. They focused on onboarding. They call it FullStory Fridays. It gave them the data they needed to get permission to improve the product.

Every Friday we would order lunch, hop in a conference room, and watch 20 real people use the product for the first time.

It was painful.
Our users got lost in the product.
They got stuck. They rage clicked on unclickable elements.
Found painful bugs we hadn't seen.
Some left RIGHT BEFORE they got to the “aha” moment. One time we saw someone get THREE POPUPS at the same time.

The practice was a game-changer for our team.
These sessions refocused us on solving the right problems for our users.

- Andrew Capland, Previously Led Growth at Wistia

Define who would be involved in the audit, and pitch a clear timeline

It’s important to detail exactly who from your team will be involved in the audit process. Once you have that defined, your next step is to pitch a clear timeline for the process - start to finish. Each member of your team will be likely involved at different stages of the process, so this timeline will ensure each stage is met with the right people.

Take inventory of your current process. Do you really need permission?

You know the saying, it’s better to ask for forgiveness. In some cases, it might be better to present the completed audit (with its benefits) to your leader or manager to prove why it should be a part of your standard practice.

Remix these concepts to work for your team

Every product, team, and constraints are unique. These two types of UX audits should give you a starting point to improve your design process and ultimately help you create a better product for your customers. Start small to build the habits without slowing down your entire team.

promotional graphic for a ux audit course

Learn our step-by-step process

Our team put together a UX audit course that helps any designer conduct great design audits and create impressive reports stakeholders love to see.

What you'll learn:

  1. Preparing for a UX Audit
  2. Conducting a UX Audit: Step-by-Step Process
  3. Reporting and Presenting Findings
  4. Tips and Common Pitfalls

Check out our UX Audit Course

Actionable UX audit kit

  • Guide with Checklist
  • UX Audit Template for Figma
  • UX Audit Report Template for Figma
  • Walkthrough Video
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