Last month, I had an incredible opportunity to give a talk at the G1 conference about Design Audit. While my team has frequently considered implementing the design audit process in our workflow, we are yet to pursue it fully. Nevertheless, I have synthesized my extensive knowledge and insights to create a cohesive presentation.
In this two-part series on Design Audit, I will share my knowledge and experience about Design Aduit based on my G1 conference presentation. In this first part, I will go through the basics of design audit’s what, why, and how.
So, what do you usually do when things get a little chaotic in your life, and you don’t even know whether you are going in the right direction or not? Hmmm… you analyze the situation, prioritize, and then make decisions for your actions. In the field of design also, if there are any kinds of inconsistencies or mismatches in the design pattern or the user is getting stuck or confused, then we analyze the design, find the flaws or inconsistencies, make the priorities, and finally make the decisions, which is known as design audit. In simple terms, a design audit is the process of analyzing a design’s visual or technical elements.
Things Design Audit Analyzes
A design audit analyzes various aspects to assess its effectiveness, usability, and alignment with objectives. Here are some of the critical areas that a design audit may focus on:
- Visual Elements: The design audit analyzes the visual elements of a design, such as colors, typography, layout, and icons, to ensure the consistency of branding guidelines. For example, do all the icons used throughout the designs have the same stroke width?
- Information Architecture and Navigation: The audit analyzes how the information is categorized, analyzed, grouped, and presented to users, ensuring it is logical, intuitive, and easy to navigate. It checks the placement and functionality of menus, links, buttons, and other interactive elements that help users navigate the design and find the desired information. For example, Are breadcrumbs used to indicate the user’s location within the design’s hierarchy?
- Content: The design audit reviews the content presented within the design, including text, images, videos, and other media. It ensures that the content is accurate, relevant, well-structured, effectively communicates the intended message, and doesn’t contain tech jargon that an average user can’t understand.
- Usability & Accessibility: It analyzes how easily an average user navigates through the app. It focuses on optimizing the user experience and ensuring the design is intuitive, user-friendly, and meets user expectations. Design audit also ensures that the products are accessible to individuals with diverse abilities and disabilities.
- Responsiveness: Responsiveness is a crucial aspect to consider in a design audit, which refers to the design’s ability to adapt and display appropriately across different devices, screen sizes, and orientations. Various factors should be considered, such as device compatibility, fluid layout, touch-friendly designs, and cross-browser compatibility.
A designer is not solely responsible for the design audit process. Key individuals from the development, user researchers, product manager, sales, marketing, QA teams, and stakeholders should be involved. Individuals from different fields can contribute their expertise, provide feedback, offer guidance, review and assess the feasibility of the design, identify potential implementation challenges, and suggest improvements from a technical standpoint.
In one of the recent client projects I worked on, we had a very tight deadline, and we only had a week to complete the design sprint. I had worked with a senior product designer. Every day, we worked on a new feature, and every evening, we had a demo call with the client to finalize the design. But before the demo call, we used to have a small internal demo with our team, which involved a product manager, front-end engineer, back-end engineer, and QA engineer. We used to give the demo of the designs and collect feedback from the team regarding the usability of the features and whether all the elements could be completed within the given time or not. According to the feedback and suggestions, we made changes before the call. Therefore, the design audit process should involve everyone related to the project.
Depending upon the scope and the size of the application, the design audit can be divided into two types:
- Micro Audit
- Large-Scale UX Audit
Micro UX Audit
As the name suggests, a micro-audit is a focused and specific evaluation of a particular aspect or element of a design. It is usually conducted before adding a new feature to the existing design, adding or documenting a pattern for the design system, or making feature enhancements based on feedback. When conducting a micro-audit, it’s essential to clearly define the scope and objectives beforehand, ensuring that the evaluation is focused and actionable.
Large-Scale UX Audit
The large-scale UX audit is usually conducted when product rebranding or refresh is required—the large-scale UX audit. Large-scale UX audits may need a team of UX researchers, designers, developers, and project managers to handle the volume of data and ensure a thorough evaluation.
- Improved Customer Service: The audit helps to discover issues that make it difficult or frustrating for people to use the product. By fixing these problems, the experience can be made smoother, easier, and more enjoyable for users.
- Time Efficiency: The audit helps identify any unnecessary steps or complexities in user workflows. By simplifying and addressing these processes, users can complete tasks more efficiently, saving time.
- Cost Efficiency: By conducting a design audit before launching or implementing a product, usability issues, design flaws, or functional gaps can be identified early. By addressing these issues during the audit phase, major redesigns or rework in the future can be avoided, saving both time and resources.
- Increased Conversions: Optimizing the user experience through a design audit can increase conversion rates. Making the interface more intuitive and seamless can increase the number of users who successfully complete desired actions (e.g., making a purchase or signing up for a service), improving the return on investment (ROI) for your business.
By conducting an audit, the UX pitfalls can be eliminated, the brand can be strengthened, and we have a deeper understanding of the product and gain valuable insights for ongoing innovation.
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