The Top 5 benefits of a UX review and how to go about it.

There are a multitude of ways a service, product, website or app can be reviewed or given a ‘health check’. These vary from expert reviews, heuristic evaluations, competitor analysis, contextual inquiries, usability testing, online surveys and more.

Research findings can help validate or squash internal debates or design ideas, and provide direction for long-term business roadmaps and strategic initiatives.

Here are a few reasons why a UX ‘health check’ or review can help your business:

  1. Validate your design and strategic roadmaps – Having a UX Review conducted through the lens of your customer is very eye opening. It highlights how your customers use your product and how best to optimise to their needs. Having this 3rd party validation on hand can provide teams with clear direction for iteration, design and development. Further, this research can provide all business units with insights into whether their strategies and roadmaps are aligned with their customer in mind.
  1. Increase in ROI (return on investment) – Small problems can lead to big dropouts or customer frustration, potentially costing the business huge amounts of money. Test early and often to iron out these issues and ensure customers can understand and use your product, meaning more click throughs and potentially higher returns.
  1. Decreased Bounce Rates – Speaking to your customers in a one-on-one environment can be both insightful and impactful for product teams. Often it’s not only how they use your product during testing, but learning about their motivations and behaviours – uncovering why they leave or bail out rather than complete or convert. These insights provide tangible guidance on how to develop a product which your customers will want to use, refer and return.
  1. Gain a Competitive Advantage – Conducting competitor reviews will provide insights on where you stand against your competitors. Combined with user testing, a deep understanding of the customer and their needs is obtained. A benchmarking exercise can also be conducted by applying these methods at different stages of product lifecycles, be it your own or your competitors. This is an effective way of measuring your progress over time with hard metrics and feature developments.
  1. Quick Wins with Low Cost – Whilst thorough research and user testing can provide deep understanding of your customers, an expert review is a fast and cost effective activity which, within 2-3 days can identify both fundamental issues as well as ‘quick fixes’ around possible user pain points and usability issues. These ‘quick fixes’ can be assessed and implemented in shorter turn around times if bigger, more robust re-designs are not part of the development strategy or pending release date.

The approaches mentioned can help a product once it’s in the market. However, the customer should always be involved in the end to end design process to ensure your product is offering maximum value.

For a Free 1 Day UX Review on the Top 5 Quick Wins for your App or Website please contact me for more information.

Myles Clemones
UX Consultant
Objective Experience

Combining Contextual Inquiry with Eye Tracking

With technology becoming more and more complex, it is key to understand how actual users interact with challenging applications. Observing users work with these systems while at work or home is bound to yield rich qualitative data.


Objective Digital’s article, “Combining Contextual Inquiry with Eye Tracking” in UX Magazine describes how eye tracking call center operators revealed some pretty amazing insights. It revealed how a stressful environment coupled with an ineffective interface can result in bigger issues, like poor customer satisfaction and high staff turnover.

Needless to say, the findings from the eye tracking analysis put a lot of arguments to rest and were the basis for the design decisions for the systems improvement.

Don’t bother me, I’m busy: Look through the eyes of your call centre staff

Traditional methods of user research and requirements gathering have long served us to help shape our designs. But as systems become more complex and users go beyond the screen, we are finding that it is getting more and more difficult to get accurate data on why our users, customers and even your staff are doing the things they do.

You customer sees a lot of things about you

You customer sees a lot of things about you

Often, it is difficult to get buy-in from stakeholders just based on verbatim comments from customer or insights based on the designer’s experience. This is where we’ve found eye tracking to be really valuable. It puts the science behind the hypotheses and clears up a lot of arguments.

Do you see what your customers see?

Do you see what your customers see?

Contextual inquiry has been a researcher’s best friend for a while now. It’s a tried and true research method which helps collect insights from the field without having to rely on the user’s memory or articulateness. But what users say they do and what they do are not enough to draw a complete picture of what’s happening. Many questions can be answered by where they look because the design of the system dictates the eye movements of the user.

Eye tracking helps you see what your customers see

Eye tracking helps you see what your customers see

Eye tracking enables the researcher to uncover subconscious eye movements of the user while using the system. Most of these eye movements happen without the user’s control or knowledge. More importantly, with eye tracking we can understand a busy person’s experience without distracting them from the task at hand, for example a call centre operator.

In a recent study of call centre systems, we observed where call centre operators looked at while serving customers over the phone. We found that the flow of the operators’ eye gaze on the screen was completely opposite to how the interface was laid out. This resulted in higher levels of stress for the operator as they had to constantly look for information on the screen and it was straining on their eyes as well. Even the operators and the stakeholders were surprised when they saw how their eyes were moving.

If you would like to learn more about conducting user research with an eye tracker, we have written a white paper on it that explains in more detail our eye tracking methodology and how you can introduce eye tracking into your lean UX processes. Download the white paper and drop us a line if you any questions.

OD FAQs | How do you interpret all the user research?

Previously, we conducted a user needs analysis project with a client in a particularly political environment.  This meant that every decision made during the redesign had to be well reasoned. The client needed to see exactly how each of the various features, functions and content items (FF&C) were understood during the user research process.  In particular they wanted to know;

”How do you choose the right cards to do a card sort with?”

This made me realise that, in many user centred design projects, the user research is simply used to educate the Information Architect (a person). Often the client doesn’t see an overt relationship between the research findings and the final design choices. They simply trust the Informationa Architecture (IA).

User centred research

To show the relationship between each research exercise and each FF&C I created a simple Excel spread sheet like this (click to enlarge).

Across the top I used the following headings:

User Research methods

  • User focus groups suggestions
  • Online Survey support
  • Online user forum support
  • Competitor analysis support
  • Stakeholder suggestions from Face to Face Research
  • External stakeholder suggestions
  • Recommended content & features (cards for sort shaded)

Strategic decisions

  • Priority (1, 2, 3)
  • Justification
  • Additional info
  • Phase
  • Responsible

Features, functions & content

Then I listed all the possible FF&C down the left, including:

  • everything on the existing site
  • all the stakeholders’ business requirements (preferences)
  • competitor ideas
  • requirements uncovered and tested, and
  • new ideas.

Next I simply went through each FF&C and checked whether it ‘passed’ each user research ‘checkpoint’.

This can be done very quickly with a client in a workshop.  That way the client has full visibility of what is in or out in the design, and most importantly, why?

The last thing to be done is putting a priority on each FFC.

Just last week I used it for another client. We did less research therefore there were less columns. Here’s a partially completed example (click to enlarge):

Graph of content, features and funcitons in IA

Table of content, features and functions in IA

This method was incredibly successful!

It allowed us to generate valuable and insightful discussion with the client and their senior colleagues. In this case, the colours on the left were used to show the priority that people gave in the cards sorted in the face-to-face workshops.

By looking at the spreadsheet you can very easily see if each of the things that stakeholders thought they needed was also a requirement of users. And also what new ideas users had come up with, and whether they are in or out.  The list provides the information architect with a checklist, a heuristic framework, to ensure nothing is missed.  It also lets the client quickly see that everything is justified.

How do you choose cards for a card sort? Don’t just guess, make use of all of the user research that you have completed.

You’ll find a list of other user research FAQs on our webite.


OD FAQs | How do I recruit people for user research?

We recommend recruiting people with a professional market research recruitment agency. We use Farron Research*. Farron has been doing recruitment for us from the beginning and also recruit for many other usability and market research companies. It costs about $100 – $130 to find people from specific demographics for your tests.

It is generally not a good idea to do recruitment yourself. As it is very time consuming and can be very frustrating for the uninitiated.  There is nothing worse that being set up for testing and the participant not showing up. If you have limited funds, you can read our popular tips about recruitment blog post. 

Sometimes clients give us lists of their customers and this is totally fine. However, recruitment may cost a bit more with a list. This is because recruiters generally use a panel of known people. These people have signed up to be participants and expect irregular calls from Farron.  She manages the lists so that people do not do too many of the same types of tests. Those on Farraons list are profiled, so that Farron can select the right demographic for your requirenents. List recruitment usually costs a little bit more than using Farron’s panel and people from lists are prone to not turning up to testing 🙂

Another reason to use a professional recruiter is that they are very strict when it comes to meeting the criteria. Their screeners are carefully put together and only include people based on an ordered priority of criteria.

Something we have become cautious about is a request to test with people with low-level web skills. Someone too lowly skilled can be a waste of a test opportunity. It can be frustrating for everyone involved, and  unfair on the test participant who feels like a failure. When it comes to web skills, we ask about:

  • frequency of use
  • tasks completed and importantly,
  • unassisted use.

We like to give Farron about a week to find 6 – 12 people and we brief Farron with the following usability recruitment guideline and briefing document.

To incentivise participants to take time out of their day, we provide a cash payment. The higher $ amount it is, the easier Farron’s job. Currently, the standard rate for a one hour usability session with general public is between $80 to $100.

If you need testing done, please be ready to complete the recruitment brief. Of course, we will help you with it!

You’ll find a list of other important usability testing requently asked questions on our website.

*Of course we are happy to use your chosen recruitment method.