Although UI/UX design are critical skills for web developers, it’s still clear that many lack an in-depth understanding of this field. UI/UX design is a combination of skills which have become indispensable in an era where webpage design and experience dictate the choices which consumers ultimately make.
Before going forward, it’s important to establish that user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are not interchangeable terms. They are, however, tied together: a good UI can lead to a good UX, but with a lousy UI, it’s near impossible for your users to enjoy a good UX on your website or app.
Since ensuring an optimal user experience is now the focus of almost every organisation, UX analysis has become more important than ever.
What is UX Analysis and why is it important?
Where UX design attempts to create the most fitting interaction between an application or web page with a user, UX analysis attempts to measure and understand the meaning behind its results.
UX analysis is the process of measuring the interactions of a user and a UI and attempting to make them valuable for future use. It involves setting out principles and guidelines that assist the use of a digital product and its user flow.
A/B testing and heat mapping are just a few of the many techniques that are used in UX analysis to help understand user interactions with a website or application. For example, data on page stay time and bounce rates can be accessed easily and enable an understanding of key changes that may need to be made to the UI.
So, why is UX analysis important for your business?
Firstly – and most importantly – UX analysis can assist companies in identifying existing flaws in its website or application. Usability evaluations and user testing can identify the parts of the program that are difficult to understand by users and by rectifying them we can ensure that the end-user experience is both satisfying and easy-to-follow.
Secondly, UX analysis helps with SEO: understanding terms that your users search for, pages they spend the most time on, and problems that need solving as a priority. This gives your business an edge in understanding which keywords should be emphasised on your website or application.
Furthermore, UX analysis assists businesses in positioning themselves well relative to their competitors. That means knowing what’s ‘working’ for other business owners, and what may not be working for you. This paves the way for designs to evolve, allowing companies to manage the dynamic changes that occur in the business sphere.
Visitors on the page can be ‘made’ to increase their session duration, their page stay, and access more pages per session, which will help businesses achieve their ultimate goals: online lead generation and lead conversion.
Like all business analytics processes, however, UX analysis is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Are There Different Types of UX Analysis?
This poses an interesting question.
Depending on the UX strategy that an organisation intends on adopting, different types of UX analyses can be utilised.
The most popularly used UX research method is competitor analysis. This involves two major steps: understanding the information that needs to be researched ie clearly identifying what you’re looking for, and ensuring that the information is properly synthesised.
To ensure that competitive analysis with UX is as accurate as it is effective, it is important to have a deep understanding of the product in question and understanding how it weighs up against your competition. Heuristics and heuristic evaluation are generally used as guiding principles for this kind of research.
This allows users to identify gaps in the market that can be penetrated, and how to position your product effectively in the market. Understanding an organisation’s overall objectives and recognising one’s direct and indirect competitors are the first steps towards an effective competitor analysis. Through this, commonalities between competitors can be identified and capitalised upon to ensure that the product receives maximum reach.
However, though competitor analysis is useful, it is limited in its scope and applicability. For this purpose, there are several other types of UX research methods that allow for effective analysis.
Since a UX design needs to be targeted to as wide an audience as possible, accessibility reviews are important. Though they are often overlooked, accessibility reviews aim to make sure that UX designs are usable by audiences that may possess visual or auditory impairments. For example, users that are colourblind will have difficulty navigating through web pages that involve colour combinations which are difficult for them to interpret.
This type of analysis involves several aspects of a layout, including but not limited to font size and type, font colour, and alt-text. If any of these are not friendly for users with disabilities, the product becomes increasingly inaccessible and companies lose out on diverse audiences.
A useful tool for detecting visual accessibility issues on web pages is Google Lighthouse. It is an extension that rates ,on a scale of 100, different parts of the UX design on a webpage and offers feedback to improve different design elements. Colour contrast tests assist the UX design process by providing UX developers with a table of colour-blind friendly shades that can be used to improve the general user experience.
In terms of performance, a UX technical review will be able to identify the page speed of an application or web page and will provide recommendations to ensure its optimisation. One of the best tools to understand how your webpage is faring in both these aspects is Page Speed Insights, which is powered by Google. It provides recommendations on improving page speed, such as image-optimisation and the caching of assets.
‘Best practices’ refer to the adherence to industry and market-specific standards and guidelines. For example, if print-media writing styles were to be incorporated in digital media writing, this would be bad for webpages as it would impact their responsiveness. Google Lighthouse, as mentioned previously, is generally considered a useful tool to apply said standards. However, it is still important to manually identify such issues and remedy them immediately.
One of the most beneficial results of adopting technical reviews in the UX analysis process is its impact on SEO. Even though it is not considered a standard process in UX analysis, SEO is the key to determining both a website’s search appearance and rank. A useful tool to understand SEO better, receive consistent feedback on improvement, and implement said changes effectively is Moz.
Though the types of UX analysis may vary, the goals of UX analysis are homogenous: making the user experience better for the future.
The Three Steps Towards Writing UX Analysis
Knowledge on the functioning and importance of UX analysis begs the question: how do UX analyses work?
The answer is more straightforward than you might have thought.
UX design analyses are often triggered by negative reviews of the webpage or application, either directly on the site, or on a third-party supporter (such as the App Store). However, organisations with the most foresight will conduct UX analyses regularly to optimise the user experience.
It is useful to plan the UX analysis thoroughly beforehand. Conducting a traffic flow analysis via Google Analytics is a useful place to start, as it highlights the different user segments that are present within a user flow, which gives essential information on the end-user experience being provided by the page.
Secondly, identify the segments within the flow, and then choose a success metric for them. These can be identified in terms of conversion rates. Whether the goal is to improve user retention or establish a better click-through with advertisements, it is important to make note of the desired outcomes with the data that is provided.
Thirdly, before the user flow process is recorded to analyse its performance, it is important to prioritise primary use cases. It is important to consider the user segments that provide the most value with regards to overall performance, whether it is retention or revenue.
Finally, record the process in the user flow by clearing the cache and opening the website page by page. Each page can be ‘screenshotted’ and placed on a Sketch Artboard to capture the subtlety in each step while laying them out to get a holistic picture of the entire service. This needs to be done separately for what the UX process might seem like from the perspective of a new user, as well as a returning user.
Here, most of the actual ‘analysing’ happens within the UX design analysis.
It is key to recognise user perceptions and expectations and see whether each screen that has been laid out is communicating what it should be to the target audience. UX engineers and designers often miss out on this by refusing to ask themselves the question: “If I was an’ average’ user, would I stay on this website or leave immediately?”
After positioning yourself in the shoes of the ‘average’ user, it is important to gauge usability heuristics through a heuristic evaluation. These are rules-of-thumb that rely on conventions that improve a product’s general usability – emphasising UX design principles and making sure that they are adhered to.
It is then important for the company to analyse the number of steps in each user flow. Identifying the number of interactions that are required to achieve the goals defined for their respective segment is imperative. This helps gauge the complexity of the overall task, and whether there can be reductions in certain processes or modifications in the UX design that can simplify the user experience on the page or app.
In the case of applications, at this point, it is important to keep the application structure in mind with regards to relevant user segments and goals. For certain segments on the application, users may be losing previously saved data, which could frustrate them and hence push them to exit the application entirely. In cases like this, the application would need to be restructured to save user data unless explicitly told not to. This is a common flaw in some banking apps – minimising the application for even a brief moment leads to the loss of all relevant transaction data and increased user anguish.
After changes have been implemented, it is important to conduct another UX analysis to see if the changes are favourable.
When doing this, consider the previous success metrics that were laid out in the ‘planning’ phase and see if they can be improved upon. Common metrics look like “increasing the conversion rate by streamlining the registering process and reducing the number of steps needed”.
Success can also be gauged by seeing if the finished product required more elements to be removed rather than added. Simpler UX designs are often easier to understand and are generally received better.
Finally, it is important to make sure that data tracking is adjusted so that future changes can be identified and noted against previous changes, to see if there has been a net positive or negative change to the goals that needed to be achieved.
Though conducting a UX design analysis can seem tedious at first, it is a straightforward process that only requires a keen eye for picking up minor details, and a commitment to improvement.
What Do UX Research and Reviews Achieve?
Whether it’s for UX testing or implementation – UX analysis has become a staple for organisations that wish to create a powerful online presence.
The ideal UX design will always put the user before anyone else and understand the world from their shoes. Therefore, UX analysis incorporates as many perspectives as possible: whether it is through competitor analysis that aims to position the product uniquely in the market, accessibility reviews that attempt to create an inclusive UX design or technical reviews that incorporate performance indicators for the best possible end-user experience.
UX analysis is a detailed, thorough process. It requires intricate planning, which paints a picture of the process in its current state and objectives for improvement. It also requires the actual analysis; questions that need to be asked to understand whether the defined objectives are being achieved, and then the ability to measure their success and see what changes are necessary.
UX analytics is ultimately more than just a game of numbers, graphs, and charts.
In a world of abundant data, UX design is positively enabling massive strides in development. The field of UX analytics, therefore, needs to follow suit. Though its fundamental principles remain constant, UX analysts need to keep pace with a rapidly evolving technical landscape.