UX Expert Review

Process, Benefits, and Structure of the report

What is a UX Expert Review?

Overall, doing a Design Review is when a UX Expert inspects a system to check for possible usability issues.

A UX Expert Review is a very complete reportAn UX Expert Review is a very complete report

To identify those usability problems is used heuristics and guidelines based on cognitive psychology and human-computer interaction research. Not only the client will get a thorough evaluation of his applications’ pain points, but will also be present recommendations for what to do next.

Besides the analysis made while crossing the application with the guidelines, is also identified the level of severity of it in case it turns out to be a problem. Adding on that, is also an explanation why it is a problem, and a recommendation to follow.

Because UX Expert Review is such an exhaustive report is classified as a more general and complete version of a Heuristic Evaluation.

Before digging into the process of developing it let’s talk about it’s benefits and structure of content.

Why is it beneficial?

Is possible to identify larger issues

  • Problems that go against best design practices would also get caught in the expert review
  • It’s a way to identify sections that rise some concern and allows to catch some issues more “obvious” that should also be fixed

Is possible to identify minor issues

  • Inconsistencies in font usage throughout the interface
  • A color that doesn’t follow brand guidelines
  • Other small inconsistencies, with icons per example

The structure of a complete UX Expert Review have:

  • List of Usability Strengths
  • List of Usability Problems
  • Severity ratings for each usability problem
  • Recommendations for fixing each usability problem

Must have screenshots and descriptions
Should include a list of strengths and a small description for each

A list of strengths is nice to have but is not as mandatory as problems and recommendations

Why is it important to have?
Reinforces which design elements are useful. In that sense, is ensured that those elements are not forgotten in the redesign process.

  • List of Usability Problems

Should include a list of problems and a clear explanation for each: The explanation must approach the heuristic or principle violated and should be connected and compared to the design.
The description problems must be objective explanations, not subjective criticisms.
If possible, it should also include a link to an article or some other source of additional information ( in case designers or other stakeholders want to read more).
Sometimes a problem doesn’t necessarily violate a guideline or principle, but instead derive from other usability research (either the reviewer’s experience or another trusted source). If this case happen the reviewer must explain evidently why that represents a problem.
Should be mapped to where they occur in the design through a screenshot.

The report can (and should) be made by more than one UX Expert in order to provide more inputs

Why is it important to have?
By using an existing UX knowledge to explain the foundation of a problem is a way to raise the expert review above the opinion.

  • Severity ratings for each usability problem

Must including a severity rating for each issue discovered based on three factors that help to determine the severity of the problem. There are out there slightly different interpretations of those factors but we do it this way:

  • Impact
    Does the problem occur in a section of the application that is more common use?
    If the problems occur in a section of the application that is rarely used have a different impact that one problem that occur in a area of the application that is frequently used.
  • Persistence
    Is the problem difficult for users to overcome?
    Some usability problems can ruin all the flow: users just can’t proceed.
    If there is not a work around the problem, it is absolutely persistent. Some usability problems have a way to workaround. Some are easy to overcome others not that much.
    Discover if they are easy or hard to overcome.
    Regardless if it is hard or not to overcome, even when users knows the solution to the problem and achieve their goals they still have to experience the pain of the problem. This is a poor user experience.
  • Frequency
    How many times the problem pop-up?
    Problems that keep popping up — are more severe because they have a bigger influence on time on task and on customer satisfaction.

Those 3 variables (Impact, Persistence, Frequency) helps to identify the heaviness of a problem

Why it is important to have?
These indicators help designers and developers prioritize the redesign work based on the findings.

  • Recommendations for fixing each usability problem
    A clear recommendation is very useful for each usability problem considering it allows to assert the issue. Remember to add your recommendations or solutions, it is crucial to positively influence the product.
  • Give a solution, support your argument
    Most of the time, once the issue is detected and the reason for the issue is acknowledged, the right fix will be straight-forward. The solution can include best practices of design.
  • A recommendation must have visual examples
    Whenever possible, support your recommendations with examples of other sites addressing the same issue or providing examples of sites solving the same issue. By providing screenshots, links to other products, or mockups you are also contributing with some practical example of solving the problem identified.

Why it is important to have?
A recommendation trace a path for a solution and support the argument of that problem being indeed a problem by showing a better approach

A page of a problem analysis can be something similar to this

Extra nice things to have:

Add to the report a section that helps the non-technical reader: an intro of what will be found, the explanation of the guidelines chosen, what each level of severity actually represents and other info that you think will help the reader to interpret the report.

Whenever possible convert the data in charts. Is a plus to have a summary perspective over the work done.

You can show a chart with all problem divided by severity, by user role or even by heuristic/guidelines

If the list of problems is somehow big, and you will not present them by severity but by heuristics, is important and very useful to have a table with the problems listed to the more severe to the least one, helps to follow an order to solve them.

Click here to see the part II of this article