UX Audit - What It Is About and How Can It help your business grow?

A co-founder and managing partner of KISS digital.

Senior Editor.

A UX audit can improve your company's business performance. Check what it is about

Usability audit (UX audit) plays important role in improving the performance of your business website

Usability has a key impact on the market success of digital products. A lower than expected conversion rate or too high rejection rate should be an impulse to verify the application or website in terms of usability, i.e. to conduct a UX audit. We explain what such an audit involves, how it should be conducted and what business benefits it can bring.

You spend 200, 300, 400 or more thousand to create an app that is expected to conquer the market. The idea works out, although not everything goes according to plan. New users are coming, but it is somehow hard to make them stay. The carts are filled with products, but they do not make it to the checkout. The customer service department struggles to handle the rapidly growing number of inquiries. No drama yet, but clearly something is failing – and you are bearing the costs instead of counting the profit.

What is wrong?

In most cases, this question can be answered with a professionally conducted UX audit.

User experience and business results. How does usability translate into profits and costs for online business?

We are not going to convince you that UX is important to the success of your online business. First of all, because we already did (read article: "Why usability is key to your digital product success?"). Secondly, because it is obvious (or at least it should be obvious) to every manager working in digital marketing or e-commerce – areas where UX is fundamental.

However, it is not enough to know that UX is important. It is also worth considering how significant the user experience is in the business operation. Especially since this role is usually convertible into money. The easiest way to explain this is to use examples.

1/ Abandoned shopping carts and user experience issues

This is one of the biggest problems that online retailers face these days. Customers put products in the shopping cart, but too often they do not make it to the checkout. When the percentage of users who do not complete the purchase process is high, the situation becomes alarming and requires thinking. There are various reasons for it. Customers are often discouraged by shipping costs or the total amount to be paid. However, in many cases the problem is connected with the quality of user experience.

According to a 2021 study by the Baymard Institute:

These are not all of the listed reasons for shopping cart abandonment, but all of the above apply to a greater or lesser extent to the area of user experience design and usability standards applied by stores. Needless to say that each abandoned shopping cart is a measurable financial loss for an e-commerce website?

2/ A busy (and expensive) helpline as a UX problem

Helpline is practically a must-have for companies serving a large number of customers. Although in recent years customer service has been rapidly automated, the operation of the helpline still requires hiring and training employees, and this entails significant costs.

According to a McKinsey survey 57% of customer service executives consider reducing the number of phone calls an absolute priority However, replacing people with bots does not always work. The McKinsey report shows that this strategy fails when the quality of customer experience is neglected at the expense of investment in digital development.

Some of the most common causes of excessive phone calls include:

The reasons for a busy helpline may also be related to faulty or non-transparent operation of the website, an application or a service itself. In either case, an overabundance of questions and concerns from users means higher customer service operating costs, plus the risk of customer loss.

There are many similar examples. What is important are the conclusions that can be drawn from them:

The foundation of usability: understanding user psychology

Underlying the UX shortcomings of web or mobile applications is usually inaccurate recognition of users' needs, behaviors and psychology. Creators of applications (developers or investors) may have a crystal clear vision of how the tool should work. The problem is that user's mind does not always work the way designers want it to. Users intuition may follow a different path, and a tool that is not adapted to their expectations has little chance for market success.

If the grumbles are not significant or can be eliminated without redesigning the system from scratch, there is a chance. With the help of a professionally conducted UX audit it can be shown to what extent a web or mobile application efficiently communicates with the users and whether they will be able to achieve the intended purpose on their own, without additional support (e.g. from the helpline consultant).

A UX audit in narrow or wide variant. Which one should you opt for?

A company which decides to follow this path and have its website or application analyzed in terms of usability, basically has two options: a narrow or a wide audit (these are more illustrative than technical terms). In the first case, a specific aspect of the website or application is verified. This approach allows you to focus on improving a specific scenario and reduce the cost and time of the audit.

The second option is an extensive audit, including a comprehensive inspection of an application or service in terms of its usability and user-friendliness. This solution is more time-consuming and expensive. However, it gives you a broader view of the situation and allows you to catch errors, often of a fleeting nature, that can have a long-term negative impact on the success of your product and your business results.

Usability audit can help identify costly errors

Of course, there is no point in looking for problems where there are none. When it is clear that the fault is related to a particular process or function of the website, it is worth focusing on it. Especially since the defect may turn out to be more difficult to remove than it might seem at first glance. This was the case of a narrow usability audit that we performed for Paypo, a provider of deferred payment services (see our case study). Our task concerned the transaction process. The usability analysis showed that it needed to be redesigned (to be clear: redesigning the process, not the whole tool). In general, the goal was to optimize the conversion in the transaction process, i.e. to improve the ratio of the number of customers who start the process to the number of customers who complete it.

To achieve the desired results, we had to audit many aspects of the transaction process, including:

2 UX audit methods: heuristic analysis and cognitive walkthrough

It is obvious that Nielsen heuristics should be applied at the stage of designing an application or a website (see more on UX designer). However, they are also useful in optimizing solutions and eliminating inevitable errors, that is why they are an important guideline during usability analysis.

There are two main approaches to performing a UX audit. One is heuristic analysis and the other is cognitive walkthrough. The former, as the name suggests, involves the effective application of Nielsen heuristics. The latter depends more on the auditor's competence: his or her experience, understanding of the business context, the client's business priorities and goals.

1/ Heuristic analysis: what it is, advantages, disadvantages

The analysis begins with identifying the user's goals. On this basis, a list of tasks that the user needs to complete in order to achieve their goals is developed. Next, the evaluators try to identify problems that the user may encounter while using the application or another type of solution. Throughout the process, Nielsen heuristics are used as a reference point.

Heuristic analysis is suitable for evaluating both interactive systems and static products. This methodology allows to discover many problems related to usability and contribute to the improvement of UX of a given product. It is also a cheaper and faster tool than complex usability tests. On the other hand, its effectiveness depends on the competences of experts conducting the analysis.

Less qualified persons may underestimate some problems and overestimate others. It is worth noting that heuristic analysis does not give a full picture of the situation and may be biased by the evaluators' subjective point of view. In order to limit the risk of mistakes it is often used in combination with other methodologies, such as the mentioned usability testing (also: UX testing - see more on user centered design), which is however a more complex process, or cognitive walkthrough.

2/ Cognitive walkthrough: what it is, advantages, disadvantages

Cognitive walkthrough consists of testing the website by experts taking the user's point of view. As part of cognitive walkthrough, evaluators perform predefined tasks, simulating the natural behavior of an average user to whom the product is addressed.

At each stage of testing, testers answer four questions (proposed by Cathleen Warton, one of the authors of this methodology) to help them evaluate the performance of the system:

  1. Will the user attempt to achieve the correct goal intended by the system?
  2. Will the user notice the availability of the correct action and the tools to perform it, e.g. a button?
  3. Will the user associate the correct action with the result they are trying to achieve?
  4. If the right action is taken, will the user notice progress toward the desired purpose?

During a cognitive walkthrough, the focus is on the smoothness and consistency of the entire process. UX analysis is supposed to help determine whether the user does not get lost while walking through the website or application and whether he or she can easily achieve the purpose for which the tool was designed. A professionally conducted analysis must take into account all business processes which a given solution has been designed to implement.

The advantage of cognitive walkthrough is its relatively low cost compared to complex UX tests. Moreover, it allows to identify a larger number of potential problems than a test session with single users because evaluators "impersonate" users during the walkthrough and take many possible points of view.

In general, cognitive walkthrough is considered an effective methodology for assessing the readability of an interface, however, it is not sufficient for identifying problems that skilled users may encounter when using more advanced tools. It is also not fully effective in assessing performance and user satisfaction with the interface, therefore, in some cases it is recommended to extend it with additional tests.

Do you want to conduct a meaningful UX audit? Do it with the help of experienced experts

Optimizing your digital product for usability translates into improved conversions and – ultimately – increased revenue. If you want to verify your tool in terms of usability and improve its effectiveness, contact us. We will carry out a UX audit for you using properly selected tools in a way tailored to your business goals.

Do you want to consult the opportunities of UX audit for your website? Contact us!


A co-founder and managing partner of KISS digital. Responsible for the development strategy and cooperating with clients and partners.

Przemysław Ćwik

Senior Editor.