Once software reaches maturity, it’s not an easy job to keep it on the right track and avoid obsolescence. No one wants their application to become outdated, slowly descending into oblivion while reaching the end of its product life cycle.
To stay competitive, organizations need to continuously evaluate and improve the performance of their software solutions and adapt to ever-changing user expectations. A baseline of recommended software modernization practices includes UX audit, code review, functionality extension, and software migration.
In this article, we’ll focus on UX audit, which is a powerful first step toward effective modernization. Before we dive into details, let’s quickly review how important UX is for product success:
UX audit is an analysis of a product’s usability. It uncovers bottlenecks in the user journey and how software performance may be harming your conversion rate (or other business KPIs).
The primary goal of a UX audit service is to enhance the business value of your product. It’s a business tool that supports entrepreneurs, product owners, marketers, and designers in making decisions about software to ensure optimal performance. Its goal is to assess the current strength of your software and provide actionable advice based on the real state of things, avoiding assumptions at all costs.
It also brings you closer to the users, helps you understand their experience with the system and expectations. It’s not only checking the health of your product; it’s also a way to identify growth opportunities.
The outcome of the UX audit service consists of a list of performance issues and improvement suggestions. That makes it easy to quickly identify and prioritize what needs to be addressed and make a data-driven decision about the product.
The UX audit insights and recommendations are aimed at:
UX audit supports organizations in achieving different goals; therefore, it’s conducted in many business circumstances. The UX audit service proves particularly effective when you:
Let’s now walk through a typical UX audit step by step:
An effective UX audit has to consider two main interests: users and the business. The KPIs will set the direction and define goals for the research team. But how to set them? Let’s have a look at some examples:
— If you want to improve operational efficiency of an internally used system (such as accounting) your KPIs could be shortening ad hoc time or completing your monthly close.
— If you’re managing an ecommerce site, KPIs could be used to decrease the shopping cart abandonment rate or to improve net promoter score.
— In the case of a SaaS product, you might be looking at the number of support tickets created or conversion rate from subscribers to customers.
Before diving into the specifics of user behavior, auditors will interview stakeholders and interact with the software in order to empathize with the users later into the process.
There is no one-size-fits-all audit process. The research methods depend on many requirements, such as: software maturity, your goals, existing documentation, whether it’s more of a health check, a rescue, or a growth attempt. Some of the most widely used UX research methods are:
It’s crucial to stay focused on the overall audit goals, and only follow the leads that are related. It’s very easy to get lost down rabbit holes with specific use cases and waste time exploring threads that will have no impact on the success of the project. Bear that in mind and keep an eye on the timeline.
The aim of the audit is not only to pinpoint usability issues but also to present actionable solutions. The recommendations should consider potential impact on the KPIs and required workload.
They can be divided into two groups: short- and long-term improvements. Short-term recommendations, the “low-hanging fruit,” are easy to implement and can improve your system performance immediately. For example, reordering navigation to make the most commonly used features easily accessible or adding a progress bar in an online form. The long-term improvements, such as application redesign, changes in information architecture or even a complete content rewrite, fix more complex issues and require more resources (in terms of people, time, and money). A good modernization strategy should include both types of action.
The report should present the research data and findings in a clear and easy to understand manner. Does it explain why poor UX on mobile devices is harming your client retention rate? Does it say how to fix it fast and which long-term solutions will address the problem? Does it mention the cost-benefit ratio for each solution? Each recommendation should be backed up by audit findings and come with a comment so that the report is clear to all current and future stakeholders.
Any recommendation has some kind of expiration date. Even though you don’t need to act upon all audit learnings immediately, bear in mind that user behavior and technology change all the time. If you wait too long, you may have to re-evaluate the findings before taking action.
Make sure you keep track of how the improvements affect your KPIs. It may be a simple spreadsheet or a Google Analytics report. It may be a more advanced monitoring solution, like a custom feature implemented within a system or a tracking add-on that sends push notifications or email updates. What’s important is to really check the numbers to evaluate the performance of your actions. It will also support you in decisions about your software in the future.
A final “step”: Don’t run your own UX audit! Team members who already know a system are biased and tend to focus on complex issues (the ones you’re already aware of). They fail to see the obvious and their opinion is prone to sentiment and prejudice.
External auditors, on the other hand, work on various applications, websites, markets, and industries. They bring a fresh perspective and broad experience into your business environment. Agency designers will widen your horizons on the state of your own system.
It provides hard data to back up your decisions, mitigate the risk, and get ahead of the competition. Modernization is a complex undertaking, and UX audit shows you what has to be done, why, and how important it actually is to product usability.
At IntexSoft, we can help you kick off your system modernization with a thorough UX audit. Our designers will carefully assess your software’s performance, user needs, and industry standards. Based on what we learn, we’ll provide you with hard data and guidelines, so that you know:
Drop us a line and let’s turn your legacy system into a well-oiled machine!