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How-to 11 min read November 6, 2019

How to carry out a site usability audit

Site usability audit is an important task for finding and solving problems related to user experience. The high level of site usability has a positive impact on the conversion and ranking of a resource in the search results.

What is a usability audit

User experience (UX) audit is the evaluation of the convenience degree of the resource for visitors. The high level of usability allows you to make a conversion action or get the necessary information quickly. Otherwise, there are problems with the resource that lead to unsatisfactory behavioral indicators and a decrease in conversion.

Checking the degree of convenience of the project with the help of a usability audit is an important task for both online stores and service sites since the number of orders on these resources is directly related to the convenience of the project for potential customers. The target audience shouldn't have difficulties in navigation, obtaining information about goods and services, placing an order.

Fixing usability problems will have a positive effect on website promotion: good behavioral factors are one of the criteria for ranking a resource in search results.

Usability audit should be carried out in the following situations:

  • at the stage of developing a resource, when it is important to assess its convenience for visitors before launching a project;
  • if necessary, increase the conversion level;
  • in case of adding new features.

The site usability audit focuses on the behavior of visitors, their interaction with the resource. The UX (user experience) are scenarios of user actions, for example, clicks on interface elements or scrolling through a news feed. The UX-designer is responsible for the convenience, connectedness, and clarity of the project for users.

Website usability audit process

1
Studying the field of activity and target audience. It's necessary to obtain information on which consumer segments the goods and services offered by the site are designed for.
2
Data analysis. Using web analytics, you need to get data on the main behavioral indicators, purchase funnel, heatmaps.
3
Marketing analysis. You'll need to explore the competitive advantages, communication channels, and conversion options.
4
Assessing the ergonomics of a resource. It's necessary to find problems that impede the implementation of conversion activities.
5
Secret Shopper. Check the effectiveness of the sales team, namely the response to calls, messages, chat questions.
6
Make a report describing the problems and a project improvement plan.

Diagnosing usability problems

One of the most important sources of problem sharing is web analytics. Using the Google Analytics report, you can get a list of the main site problems.

To do this, go to the "Behavior" section and select "Overview":
Users behaviour overview in Google Analytics
For many sites, poor behaviors are high bounce rates and short page views. There are exceptions for certain categories of resources: for example, customers go to a taxi service website to find a phone number, and then immediately go out. Also, a poor behavioral indicator doesn't apply to sites with weather forecasts and more.

In the "All Pages" section, you can examine the statistics for various site URLs in more detail:
Users behavior on site pages in Google Analytics

How to check site usability using additional services

#1

Five-Second Test

The service allows you to conduct an express assessment of the resource usability based on the first five-second impression of the site design:
Five Second Test usability checking
Test participants watch a screenshot of the site for five seconds. Then they are asked questions about what they saw, for example, what is the purpose of the page and its main elements, what is the general impression of the design.

To get started, you need to create your five-second test:
How to create a five second test of the website UX
Click "Get started":
Creating a project in Five Second Test
Carry out the registration procedure by filling in the name of the organization, contact details, test language, and selecting a tariff plan. After filling in the fields, click "Create my account":
Sign up in Five Second Test
Then fill in the data about your position, team, and select the test participants. After that, click "Complete setup":
Five Second Test account settings
Next, you can create a test:
Create a usability test in Five Second Test
When creating a test, enter its name and upload project screenshots:
Screenshots uploading for UX testing
After adding questions of interest, click "Save and Continue". Afterward, you get a discount of $30. You can spend this money to hire participants to test the site. The second option is to use the test link with your testers:11

Then you get a discount of $30 to hire participants or use the link to the test with your audience:
Usability audit pricing
Click "Place an order" and select the required number of test participants, as well as their social characteristics. After specifying all the data, you'll see the cost of testing and its duration:
Place an order in Five Second Test
Then select "Submit Order" and get the opportunity to enter your bank card information for crediting funds for the first test:
Usability check purchase
#2

WordPress plugins

It's convenient to use special plugins, for example, Heatmap for WordPress, to study activity heatmaps on WordPress sites:
Heatmap for WordPress plugin
Heat maps let you know which sections of the project are the most popular and which, on the contrary, don't attract visitors. The least popular objects must be removed or replaced, focusing on clickable elements as an example of what resonates with the audience.

To install the heatmap, go to the "Plugins" section of the admin panel and select "Add New". Then find, install, and activate the required plugin:
Plugin Heatmap for WordPress installation
For future use, you need to create an account. After authorization, indicate the company's name and domain, select a tariff plan, accept the conditions for using the service and click "Sign up for free":
Creating an account in Heatmap for WordPress
After that, add this code to the site:
Heatmap for WordPress tracking code
Then go to the "heatmap" section and select "Check now":
Heatmap for WordPress plugin activation
Next, when you visit the site, you can use the Alt+Shift+H key combination or move the heatmap menu to the bookmarks bar:
Heatmap for WordPress plugin interface in the admin panel
After enabling this button, the plugin panel will appear on the website in the upper right corner:
Heatmap for WordPress panel on the site
In the free version, you can analyze up to five pages. According to them, you'll see real-time statistics that indicate the most popular elements in percentage terms.
#3

Estimated page load speed

For users of portable devices, the fast download speed of the resource is one of the key points of a high level of usability. It's also a ranking factor in the search engines. You can run a speed test using the Google PageSpeed Insights tool:
Google PageSpeed Insights

Independent usability audit of a resource

The usability of the site design can be tested independently without additional services and experts.
1
Easy navigation
  • each page of the project can be accessed in no more than four clicks;
  • human-readable URLs are used.
  • "breadcrumbs" (the path to the page through sections and subsections of the resource) are added;
  • links are highlighted in the text, broken, and cyclic hyperlinks are absent;
  • there is a site map;
  • the link to the logo in the header of the site leads to the main page.
2
Quality and structured content
  • the use of headings, subheadings, and labeled lists facilitates the text perception;

  • the presentation style should meet the target audience requirements. Informal content can be appropriate in some situations, but a strict business language with a large number of professional terms can be needed in some other ones;

  • to illustrate the material, you need to select the appropriate visual content such as photos, pictures, graphs, charts.
3
Forms and conversion elements
The order and registration forms, "Buy" button, and calls to action have the greatest impact on the conversion. The forms should contain a small number of fields. It's necessary both to test the site on the desktop and to check the display of the mobile version on various devices.

The attractiveness, simplicity, and accessibility of these elements are very important for effective work. In case of unsatisfactory conversion, it's worthwhile to conduct A/B testing to select the best design option objectively.
4
Contact information
The resource should contain a general description of the activity, the ownership form, certificates, and licenses. Also, there are required such things as easy access to a page with an address and an operating mode, contact phones, e-mail, preferably a map, and a feedback form.
5
Good design
Comfortable and soft-core design involves:

  • site adaptation for mobile devices;
  • the presence of a favicon that resonates with the logo of the site;
  • the color scheme and style of the project, corresponding to its subject. To check for possible errors in color solutions, you can use the Checkmycolours.com service;
  • readability of texts and inscriptions on menu items, buttons, widgets;
  • intuitive pictures for menu icons — search, help, contact phone numbers.

Conclusion

Usability audit is a complex and time-consuming process. With its help, vulnerabilities of the site should be found, and work should be carried out providing the following aspects:
1
The technical side is composed of fast loading, adaptation for mobile devices, easy navigation.
2
Ease of use of conversion elements such as the access to contact information, simple checkout and filling out the newsletter subscription form.
3
Structured text content.
4
Harmonious color combinations of elements that favorably affect the site perception and the information presented on it.
5
Operational and competent work of the sales department.

This article is a part of Serpstat's Checklist tool
Checklist at Serpstat
Checklist is a ready-to-do list that helps to keep reporting of the work progress on a specific project. The tool contains templates with an extensive list of project development parameters where you can also add your own items and plans.
Try Checklist now

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