Blog PostUnlocking the power of UX Review

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Fanny Dias


Process, Benefits, and Structure of the Report

What is a UX Review?

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

Heuristics and guidelines based on cognitive psychology and human-computer interaction research are used to identify those usability problems. Not only will the client receive a thorough evaluation of their application's pain points, but they will also be provided 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 of why it is a problem, and a recommendation to follow.

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

Before delving into the process of development, let's discuss its benefits and content structure.

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

It's possible to identify major 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 Review has the following:

  • 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 and should include a list of problems and a clear explanation for each. A list of strengths is nice to have but is not as mandatory as problems and recommendations.

Why is it important?

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

It 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 of 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 derives from other usability research (either the reviewer’s experience or another trusted source). If this case happens 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 to provide more inputs.

Why is it important?

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 include a severity rating for each issue discovered based on three factors that help determine the severity of the problem.

There are slightly different interpretations of those factors out there, but we do it this way:

  • Impact

Does the problem occur in a section of the application that is more commonly used?

If the problems occur in a section of the application that is rarely used have a different impact than one problem that occurs in an 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 work around. 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 know 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 does the problem pop up?

Problems that keep popping up — are more severe because they have a bigger influence on time on task and customer satisfaction.

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

Why it is important?

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 because it allows us to address the issue. Remember to add your recommendations or solutions, it is crucial to positively influence the product.
  • Give a solution, and 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 straightforward. 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 examples of solving the problem identified.

Why it is important?

A recommendation traces a path for a solution and supports the argument of that problem being indeed a problem by showing a better approach

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 into charts. It's a plus to have a summary perspective of the work done.

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

If the list of problems is large, and you will not present them by severity but by heuristics, it is important and very useful to have a table with the problems listed from the most severe to the least one, which helps to follow an order to solve them. Click here to see the part II of this article Cover photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash