How to Conduct an Effective Website UX Audit: Checklist and Template
by Fedor Kiryakov
In today's fast-paced world, your website must organically grow and evolve in response to changes in your business objectives and your clients' needs. User experience (UX) designers are continuously striving to optimize the satisfaction level of your site visitors. However, if left unattended, design continuity issues, accessibility gaps, or other drawbacks can seriously limit your website performance.
UX design audit helps you identify which areas of your site may need an update. For most companies, it's good practice to run a UX audit regularly. As a result of this process, you can create an actionable plan for improving your site, which, in turn, will lead to a higher conversion rate and greater customer loyalty.
This article provides a detailed overview of how to conduct a UX audit for a website and offers you a step-by-step UX audit checklist and template that you can use to evaluate your website. If you are looking to complete a site UX audit on your own, this guide will help you get started.
What Is a Website UX Audit?
A UX design audit is a quality assurance process where your website performance is carefully reviewed and evaluated from a user's perspective. This evaluation aims to identify any previously unnoticed problem areas that reduce conversion rate and cause gaps in design continuity.
If an agency conducts a UX design audit for your website, you will typically
- receive a detailed audit report,
- discuss the results of the evaluation process with a specialist, and
- obtain a list of recommended changes.
A UX audit report identifies critical areas of improvement based on data analytics, usability testing, user testing, and interviews. A data-driven approach assures that implementing these suggestions will lead to tangible benefits for your business.
Even though implementing the suggested changes is not included in the user experience audit for a website, it would be beneficial to follow up on the feedback. From our experience working with companies in various industries for the last decade, we have seen that website visitors usually appreciate improved user experience. There is no doubt that better relationships with your customers can be built and enhanced through your website. As a result, this strengthens your business brand and creates loyal website users.
Why Do You Need to Conduct a Website UX Audit?
Before delving into how to do a website UX audit, let's first look at how it can be helpful for your business.
The user experience audit, also known as usability audit, is a powerful tool to identify less obvious website content issues that negatively affect users' experience on your site. For example, UX inconsistencies might cause site visitors to leave the website or abandon their shopping cart. If the product description is unclear, the delivery details are ambiguous, or the process of adding items in the shopping cart is confusing, it may prevent customers from completing a transaction they have initiated in an online store.
The main goals of conducting a UX audit of a website include the following:
- To identify gaps in user experience
- To improve your website performance
- To make your site more user-friendly
- To make it easy for your site visitors to complete specific target actions on your site, such as making a purchase or signing up for a monthly subscription.
- To collect data analytics about your users' journey.
As a result of a site UX audit, the design of your website is carefully reviewed to identify critical areas for improvement. A robust online presence and streamlined user experience give a business an immediate competitive advantage in today's fast-paced business environment. Improved website usability leads to greater customer satisfaction, fosters customer loyalty, and ultimately increases sales and brand awareness.
Loyal customers tend to spend more time engaging with your website. Thus, the bounce rate is lower. UX design audit reduces the cost of developing a new website and the costs of customer acquisition and retention for existing sites. Identifying and removing gaps in the user experience journey minimizes confusion, frustration, and ambiguity.
When Should You Do a Website UX Audit?
A website UX design audit is a powerful diagnostic tool. It is advisable to conduct user experience evaluations regularly to make sure your online presence is thriving. Whether your website is a newborn, a baby, or an adult, it can benefit from usability testing. You will invariably gain a better understanding of the behavior of your current site visitors and be able to expand your business by serving their needs.
A website UX audit can be helpful at various stages of a website life cycle.
- Development Stage
A UX design audit can diagnose potential usability issues during the development stage, even before a website launch.
- Website Launch or Redesign
After launching a new website or redesigning an existing one, a usability audit can help you make sure that its performance is optimized.
- Introducing New Functionality
Similarly, when you plan to introduce new functionality to your audience, user testing can help you validate a new feature before it goes live.
- Website Underperformance
Whenever you notice that your website performance is worse than desired, it's helpful to run a UX audit and identify critical areas for improvement. The sooner it is done, the faster your site can start functioning at its best.
- Regular Checkup
As a part of the regular website maintenance and optimization routine, it's good practice to schedule periodic website UX audits.
Website UX Audit Checklist
Are you ready to evaluate your website UX design? Here is a step-by-step checklist for a website user experience audit. It shows you how to do a UX audit of a website.
- Step 1: Specifying Business Objectives
The best way to clarify your business objectives is through conducting interviews with the stakeholders within the company. Stakeholders should be familiar with the website you are evaluating and have a vested interest in it. They can include developers, designers, product managers, marketing specialists, salespeople, or customer service representatives.
Once you identify the list of potential stakeholders, ask them the following questions:
- Why was the website designed in the first place?
- Which specific business goals is it helping us to achieve?
- What challenges have you noticed with it?
- What would you like to see improved?
It's essential to be specific when identifying your business goals. The purpose of this stage is to clarify how achieving a particular objective would look like so that it's easier for you to track performance later. It is easier to evaluate the effectiveness of your website if you know what exactly it is trying to achieve and have measurable goals.
Interviews can be conducted either face-to-face, online or via a simple SurveyMonkey.
- Step 2: Building User Personas
Now that the business objectives are clear, you can turn toward understanding your users' needs. This process is typically done through building user personas. Simply speaking, user personas are fictional users with their unique needs, desires, pain points, and demographic characteristics. User personas represent your typical users.
- The following questions can be helpful at this stage:
- What are the demographics of the website visitors?
- What is their personality type?
- What do they try to accomplish on the website?
- What is preventing them from achieving their goals?
- How do the user's goals align with our business goals?
Even though it can take some time and lots of thinking, the result is highly beneficial for your business. You may already know quite a lot about your customers. To learn more about who they are in real life, you can use surveys or interview a small group of website visitors.
Shane Williams describes the process of creating user personas in more detail.
- Step 3: Creating User Flows
Now that you know who your users are, you can learn how they meet their needs. User flow diagrams show a sequence of steps that each user persona takes as they interact with your website. Mapping out their user journeys can help you identify any gaps in the continuity of your site design and points of confusion.
- These questions can guide you through the process of building user flows:
- Where do the users come from to our site?
- What actions do they take while they are on the website?
- In which order do we want them to visit pages on the site?
- Which actions do we want them to complete?
- Step 4: Analyzing Data
You can gain great insights into the user experience of your site visitors in a matter of minutes with Google Analytics (). It helps you track essential user metrics for your website, such as the number of visitors, bounce rate, time spent on each page, and so on. A minimum of three months of data is typically sufficient to provide a foundation for meaningful hypothesis testing. Device information (mobile device or desktop) can help you decide what to focus on during usability evaluation.
In addition to Google Analytics, consider subscribing to Hotjar, CrazyEgg, or Kissmetrics. These services offer heat mapping statistics on your users allows you to track user flows of individual visitors of your site. Heatmaps for websites show hot spots where users' eyes go first and focus on the most. CrazyEgg offers heatmaps for both clicks and scroll on different devices, as well as detailed information about where your visitors are coming from.
- Step 5: Performing Heuristic Usability Evaluation
Heuristic evaluation is the most widely used approach to identifying any design flaws in the user interface. During a heuristic evaluation, you apply what you've learned so far about your user personas and user journeys and put yourself in their shoes.
As you evaluate your website from the point of view of a typical user, take notes and screenshots of every problematic area. The more usability problems you generate at this stage, the more opportunities for improvement you will find for your website.
It is helpful to rely on specific criteria when performing UI design evaluation. Jacob Nielsen developed ten usability heuristics together with Rolf Molich in the early '90s.
Inspired by these ten usability principles, we use the following evaluation criteria:
- Negative Flows
Provide users the opportunity to cancel their actions and make changes.
- Flow Continuity
While evaluating user flows, we can identify roadblocks that shouldn't be there. Examples of these roadblocks could be asking for their email one more time or requesting a user to make a choice that they have already made earlier. They repeatedly turn into exit points for website visitors.
- Where Am I?
It can be frustrating not knowing where you are. Location ambiguity is very undesirable for any website page and any multi-step process like placing an order.
- Easy Process of Filling Out Forms
Have you visited an online store where it takes forever to complete a purchase? People have a very short attention span. Make it fast and easy for them to complete forms on your site. Keep your forms as simple as possible. The development team can improve field validations, success, and error messages. The availability of support or an option to report an error might sometimes be helpful.
- Language, Color, and Industry Standards
This category varies depending on the type of your business. Some industries require specific elements to be present to avoid confusion.
- Help and Documentation
If a user needs additional help or documentation to understand how to complete a task, it should be made available in a clear and accessible way.
You can download a checklist with Jacob Nielsen's usability principles here.
- Step 6: Performing Accessibility Review
As portable electronic devices are becoming more prevalent, ensuring that all users can use your website is even more critical. Web Accessibility Initiative offers a great resource on how to evaluate the accessibility of a website here
Google Lighthouse is a powerful open-source tool that you can use to test accessibility, as well as other website features. It offers detailed feedback on your site's performance, accessibility, best practice, and SEO features, generates a report, and offers solutions.
- Step 7: Compiling Findings and Recommendations
The final step of the UX design audit is to summarize the findings and develop specific recommendations for improvement.
A comprehensive site user experience audit report:
- lists major usability issues that were identified,
- explains how these challenges impact current website performance,
- specifies suggestions for A/B testing, and
- estimates their impact in terms of your business objectives.
Website UX Audit Template
Now that you know how to do a website UX audit and have a UX site audit checklist let's review how you can organize your findings. A website UX audit template summarizes the insights you gathered at each step of the auditing process. Below we share our quick approach to logging every problem area of your site that requires attention.
All identified usability issues can be grouped into two categories:
- High-Level Issues
High-level issues are concerned with evaluating the big picture strategy for your website.
They include the following types of usability issues:
- Website objectives
- Are all website objectives addressed straightforwardly?
- Is your website navigation consistent?
- Does the user know where they are?
- UI Design
- Does UI design support user experience for all identified user personas?
- Is the design mobile-friendly?
- Does it meet the accessibility standards?
- Tech stack
- Does the tech stack support the UX design?
- Is the field validation aligned with user experience?
- User Flow Issues
Common examples of user flows include signing up for the company's newsletter, making a purchase, registering for a monthly subscription, making a payment, canceling an order, changing membership status, and so on.
The following questions can be helpful to identify an issue:
- Can users complete the flow's objective?
- Does the proper technology support UX?
- Is UX supported by UI design?
Record each issue in a UX audit template provided below. For each problem, give a brief description, location on the website, its effect on user experience (low, medium, or high), recommended improvement, design & development effort (low, medium, or high), and priority level (low medium, or high).
We provided two examples of usability issues to illustrate the process of filling out the website UX design audit template. Based on a list of recommended changes, your team can immediately start working on a timeline for implementing them.
UX Audit Template
Effect on UX
Design & Development Effort
The breadcrumbs are not visible. Hence, the user is feeling lost.
About us page, product pages, category pages.
Add breadcrumbs to all pages
2. User Flows
Users don’t know how to cancel an order, which leads to lower user satisfaction and higher costs associated with customer support.
Order confirmation screen
Add an option to cancel order within 30 minutes of the purchase on the order confirmation screen and in the order confirmation email.
Consider Tino Agency Your Trusted Partner
As a full-service design agency located in Houston, we help our clients define, design, and develop powerful user experiences. Our proven human-centered design process consistently delivers user-friendly and engaging digital products for our customers. We develop full-fledged mobile and web applications with front-end, back-end services, and third-party integrations. We also build and redesign static websites.
We helped many established companies with their UX design audit.
One of them was Energy Ogre, a team of non-biased energy industry professionals committed to helping Texans save money on their electricity bills. They hired our design team to introduce new functionality and redesign their website. Completing the UX design audit laid a firm foundation for the subsequent overhaul of their website and application.
We analyzed their current website, created a list of recommendations for improvements, and developed an actionable plan for implementing them. As a part of usability evaluation, we determined the placement of new features in the overall website architecture.
In the UX audit report, we paid particular attention to revising the structure of the client's website because many new features were launched at the same time. Among all user flows, our priority was streamlining the sign-up process.
If you are not inclined to learn how to run a UX audit for your site on your own, we understand entirely. Drop us a line at…, and we'll be happy to assist you in conducting your website UX design audit.
Conducting an effective UX design audit for your site may seem like an overwhelming task at first. However, with the help of the right tools and structure, you can efficiently complete it and gain valuable insights that will help you strengthen your business.
As you get more familiar with the process of usability audit described above, the big picture will begin to emerge. When you're ready to get started, it is helpful to break down this comprehensive process into smaller steps and set a timeline for each step.
In this article, we explain how to conduct a UX audit for a website. We break it down into steps and offer you a comprehensive checklist and simple template to record your findings and recommendations.
The outcome of an effective audit is a list of actionable recommendations for improving your site. An audit report serves as a helpful guide for implementing suggested changes and, thus, brings you closer to reaching your business goals.
- What is UX design audit for a website?
UX design audit is a quality assurance process where your website performance is carefully reviewed and evaluated from a user's perspective. The goal is to identify any previously unnoticed problem areas that reduce conversion rate and cause gaps in design continuity. In a website UX audit, the design of a website is carefully evaluated, and critical issues are identified based on data analytics, usability testing, and interviews. An evidence-based approach assures that implementing these suggestions will lead to tangible benefits for your business.
- What is a good UX checklist to audit my website?
A checklist for UX audit of a website includes the following stages: specifying your business objectives, creating user personas, building user flows, analyzing data, performing heuristic usability evaluation, performing accessibility review, compiling findings and recommendations. The outcome of an effective audit is a list of actionable recommendations for improving your site. An audit report serves as a helpful guide for implementing suggested changes and, thus, brings you closer to reaching your business goals.
- How much does a UX audit cost?
The cost of a user experience audit for a website audit depends on the scope and complexity of the site and the location, size, and quality of the design team. A freelancer could charge you between $2000 and $5000, but the quality of the report might be uncertain. Ensure that you receive a report with specific recommendations and that the scope of work includes a meeting to discuss all the findings and recommendations. If you hire a design agency, the cost of a website UX audit can vary between $7 000 and $15 000. However, a reputable agency has a better return on investment.
- How do you evaluate the UX for a website?
UX design for a website is typically evaluated based on data analytics, comprehensive usability evaluation, user testing, and interviews. As a result of this process, you will receive a detailed audit report. It will discuss the findings and recommends improvements for your site, which will lead to tangible benefits for your business.
- How to audit user experience on a website?
Heuristic evaluation is the most common approach to identifying any design flaws in the user interface. During a heuristic evaluation, you evaluate your website from the point of view of its user. Taking notes and screenshots of every problematic area or potential challenge for the user, you identify opportunities for improvement