The first impression forms a long-lasting impact. Design consistency greatly influences the customer experience. Any kind of inconsistency in design will make a brand untrustworthy, which is why it is important to focus on the design audit process.
According to a study, 94% of impressions are design related. Brands must convey the same message to their existing and potential customers from all touchpoints. For this, consistency in the design for all platforms is mandatory.
Purpose of a Good Design
A good design creates a positive impression on the visitors’ minds. Creating a positive impression not only facilitates interaction but also influences the user experience.
Interaction can happen in many ways, such as downloading a content-sharing app or purchasing something from an eCommerce website. So, interactions in the digital space today are focused on meeting the needs of users and validating their existence.
There might be many metrics for validating a successful design winning over users. But it’s not easy to figure out when a design might fail. After all, the design process is not a constant thing.
Keep in mind that UX design trends are constantly evolving. Hence, to keep up with the trends, conducting a UX audit is mandatory.
Inconsistency in the website design might send a different message across the different pages of a site. Although this may seem rare, disparities can start to accumulate and send confusing signals to visitors or users.
If visitors/users get confused, they won’t convert. Nor will they look forward to forming a long-lasting relationship with your brand. That’s why the design process shouldn’t be overlooked.
As consistency in design plays a great role in customer experience, conducting a website design audit is very important. Design audits allow you to figure out the worth of the whole website. They even help to check the structuring so that it can offer a good user experience. It’s a kind of check-up that allows you to ensure it’s working well across all channels.
What is a Design Audit?
In today’s competitive world, the design of products and services holds a lot of importance. The more useful a product is, there is a high chance of attracting customers. The success of a design solution depends on how well the design professionals follow best industry practices and policies.
Designers and developers should review the visual branding elements of a design system regularly and fill in any gaps. In most cases, the designers look for uniformity. To help designers in this task design audits come into play.
To put it simply, a design audit is a checkup for usability. It includes design evaluation and structuring that would offer actionable business insights. The audit helps to ensure that the product/service remains consistent at any touchpoint.
Depending on the design review result, strategies for an easier user journey can be implemented. This, in turn, helps sites with increased satisfaction, customer engagement, and conversion.
So, an audit can ensure that the messages and communications, both verbal and written, are on track. During the audit process, the designer will gather and review all types of branding elements.
The audit is not only limited to visual elements. The designers will check whether the Facebook ads are consistent with the look, tone, voice, and message of the platform.
Design audit professionals can analyze the visual and interactive elements of a user journey and offer remedies for any inconsistencies.
Primary Purpose of a Design Audit
What’s the purpose of a design audit? A design audit is a process of reviewing all the UI elements created by a design team.
To be more specific, all components within the libraries are analyzed on an individual basis. Once the analysis is done, the components are then grouped depending on their nature and even functionality.
This process makes it easy for the designers to investigate various elements, rather than just glide through the design system. For design audits, it is extremely important to ensure that all UI elements get desired attention. An audit can improve the quality of future designs and make the design process more efficient.
At its core, a website design audit gathers and assesses all forms of ads from social media. They also assess every type of verbal and written communication gathered from the website to the actual product.
It’s true that users go through dozens of touchpoints during their journey or while viewing the product. But you need to question whether the experience is consistent and trustworthy or if the experience is unpredictable.
So, the primary idea behind the design audit is to locate the problem areas and fix them on a priority basis. The main idea is to analyze the visual elements and the interaction style and even the message regarding uniformity and execution.
Importance of Design Audit
Wondering what’s the significance of a design audit for a business?
Well, a web design audit, when done correctly, can add great value to the performance of an organization. A design systems analysis is a comprehensive way to assess the resources and current state of elements in a design system.
A comprehensive website design audit helps designers understand the design process within an organization. It effectively figures out whether a new system is needed or not. And, if it’s not the case, then the existing system should be used.
Now, let’s see why conducting a design audit is so important.
We know that the look and feel created by the visual assets are crucial to ascertain how the audience is going to assess your brand. Hence, it won’t be wrong to say that it’s an important aspect of a company’s identity.
If you are running a small business, then it’s easy to handle the brand identity on your own. However, as your company starts to expand, a thorough design audit will help to avoid any future inconsistencies.
For instance, the web design audit process will ensure that all graphic elements are being applied consistently across all marketing materials. It will ensure that your business cards or brochures don’t have different typefaces.
You can develop trust only when you maintain consistency in all marketing collaterals and ensure constant user experience. For carrying out the design audit job, you can take the help of a website audit company. They will offer you the best results.
Who can benefit From the Design Audit service?
The design audit process proves beneficial for the following teams. Let’s investigate the details:
- Product Teams: The product team can see how their product differs from their competitors. The website design audit process helps to streamline the resources for design improvements.
- Product Managers: Product managers will get a separate view of the potential issues. Since they work closely with the product, it’s more difficult for them to see the design and UI from a different perspective.
- Product Owners: The owners can identify the gaps and bridge the same in conversion funnels.
- Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurs should consider design audits if they want to make changes to design prototypes before moving to the development stage.
- Investors: If you are an investor and looking for an experienced partner to lead the teams working on design solutions improvement.
The Benefits of the Website Design Audit Process
If you are contemplating the benefits of a website design audit process, you are not alone. All of you who are reading this post now might have the same question in mind.
Let’s keep aside the debate and see how a design audit proves beneficial to an organization.
Ensuring Consistency in Design
A UX audit can help improve the user experience by making visual recommendations and improving usability.
A design audit helps to evaluate the company’s functionality at every growth stage. The audit process will eventually help to manage the visual designs and functions while maintaining a uniform tone.
A good design plays a crucial role in maintaining consistency. A design system greatly relies on design principles, such as simplicity, aesthetics, consistency, and accessibility.
The audit process takes a close look into the existing UI elements and the design patterns. This helps keep designs up to date and fix any errors that might have been missed during the initial creation process.
Evaluating the Dimension of Digital Products
A web design audit can help businesses assess their digital product and identify areas that need improvement.
Evaluate the Design Quality
Design audits offer the ability to check product quality, designs, user experience, and the overall strength of the brand/company. An audit assesses the design’s usefulness, especially when an organization has a comprehensive design for almost every project.
Identify Gaps in the Design Process
Organizations, whether big or small, need to conduct a design audit. It can identify the gaps and shortcomings of the present system. This process is almost like gap analysis as found in the content strategy.
In content strategy, different components of the systems are evaluated to meet the goals of an organization. A website design audit offers various perspectives where the users of the system look at the design critically.
Make Resources Available to the Design Team
Designers are often anxious about the accessibility of resources. Sometimes designers don’t have access to the best design tools or enough money in the budget to create the best design.
This is where a web design audit proves helpful. An in-depth audit helps to analyze the existing resources that are crucial for producing realistic goals for any future projects.
Updating Design Standards & Policies for Organizations
The UI/UX field is always making progress. Organizations must remain aware of the latest design practices. Why? So that the relevant design trends can become a part of the internal design process.
With the help of a design audit, designers get the opportunity to learn market trends and research competitors. With the gathered knowledge, designers can rectify their present design standards and policies.
Design audits allow us to examine existing policies and assess their effectiveness. This is important because governance is a key part of the design system.
So, design audits can be beneficial for both organizations and end products.
How to Carry Out a Design Audit?
Do you want to carry out a web design audit but don’t know where to start? All you need to do is to follow this blog post to know the details.
Just like other audit processes, a design audit also starts with the process of gathering every asset. This helps to get a complete overview of an organization’s external communication.
It’s important to remember that every single element is crucial and shouldn’t be neglected. Although the process of a design audit might seem to be a bit complicated, still, it’s necessary.
The elements of the audit process that should be paid close attention to are:
- Website Pages
- Style Guides
- Logos (All formats and even use cases)
- Standalone Landing Pages
- Marketing Collaterals and Campaigns
- Social Media Content
- Original Design Files
- Live Design
Now, let’s look at the steps for conducting a comprehensive design audit.
Create Audit Goals
Planning is an important part of the design audit. Before you start analyzing the UI elements, it is crucial to have some idea of the design audit’s goals and objectives.
So, setting up a clear and realistic goal for the audit process is important. The best way to implement this step is to think in respect of SMART goals. Maintaining clarity regarding the goals helps to perform an effective design audit. Thereby increasing collaboration and bringing every designer on the same page.
Analyze Your Resources
The second step in the design audit process is the planning phase. First, you need to take a closer look at your resources. This helps to manage the design audit expectations and even manage various teams that are a part of the audit process.
You can get an idea of the time and budget available for a design audit by analyzing the resources. Gathering as much information as possible will make a direct impact on the audit quality and thoroughness.
Performing a Design Inventory
Design inventory is time-consuming and an important part of any design audit. During this step, designers try to gather every single UI element which makes up the design system. Each aspect, starting from the design policies to the pattern library, component library to branding guidelines should be documented.
The most common way to document design elements is to take a screenshot and put it in a shared folder. With the help of a design inventory, the design audit becomes smooth and effective.
Categorize the UI Elements
Once the design inventory is complete, you must categorize all elements depending on their functionality and nature.
For instance, you can group all buttons under a single category, whereas every landing page is under another group. It’s easy to get an overview of the design and identify any duplicates, redundancies, or missing elements by grouping the elements.
Identify Redundant Components
After the categorization of UI elements is complete, the identification of duplicate or missing content starts. Designers can use a single file to collect all the design elements they need for a project.
This makes it easy to see which elements are used more than once or are missing entirely. For instance, there can be situations where a contact form is not in the design process. Well, such instances must be rectified.
Analyze the Visual & Typographic Elements
Visual elements, such as images, deserve special attention during the design audit. A visual audit is a part of the design audit process. The color palette and visual choices are analyzed to ensure the designs are consistent and aesthetically pleasing.
Similarly, the use of the right fonts is crucial for making the design process more comprehensive and effective. Maintaining consistency of the fonts, colors, and font templates is an integral part of the design audit.
Carry Out Accessibility Analysis
This area gets overlooked during the website design audit process. It’s important to check if accessibility standards have been implemented into design policies during the design audit process.
Design choices like color contrast, social media usage, and font selection are important for evaluating a project’s usability and usefulness. Therefore, it’s important to give due attention to accessibility.
Consider Branding Guidelines
Branding shouldn’t be ignored during the product and service design process. Most often companies include their brand guidelines in their style guides. This helps to maintain proper consistency while using fonts, logos, and even brand names.
When performing a design audit, the design elements should be analyzed as per the brand guidelines. This process can be performed separately, or it can be included in each step of the audit process. Brand guidelines help to ensure that the brand identity doesn’t get lost within the design system.
Create a Roadmap
The main goal of a design audit is to come up with a plan. For instance, one can check whether the design needs an upgrade with the addition of new elements. It helps to identify whether a new design needs to be made to replace the old one.
With a roadmap, it’s easy to pinpoint the limitations and the needs of the design teams. This, in turn, creates a realistic timeline for the achievable goals.
Present a Report
Once the design teams complete the audit prices, it’s important to convey the results to the stakeholders. It might involve various departments, such as content, development, and marketing departments.
The findings should be presented in a simple manner that the stakeholders can understand, ensuring that the audiences are well aware of the next steps.
Tools to Carry Out a Website Design Audit
Designers use a wide range of tools for design audits. However, some tools are worth considering for offering a flawless design and auditing the site’s elements seamlessly. They are:
- Usability Tools
- Usability Hub
CrazyEgg is very useful for designers as it helps them identify which areas of the design need immediate attention. For instance, when the heatmap indicates that the CTA isn’t getting much traction, you can line up the analysis during the upcoming web design audit.
- This tool lets you implement heatmaps on the website.
- One can also track how far down visitors are scrolling the pages.
- Keep a tab on the traffic sources and categorize the user’s data.
With this tool, you can easily record every action of the users who visit your website. Actions could be mouse movements or clicks or form interaction.
This tool helps designers identify which elements of the site are not attracting users as they should. With Usability Tools, it’s easy to divide the gathered data from visitors and give it a quick analysis.
- Allows you to divide data for a quick analysis.
- Share the recordings with other team members.
- Track down the user’s mouse movement or clicks.
Usability Hub deserves special attention. It’s a platform that encompasses many tools for conducting a design audit. It comprises a Five Second Test that finds out whether the users can remember your site’s design.
Finally, designers can reach a conclusion by accessing the audience surveys. For instance, what visitors think of the site’s design and what changes need to be made.
- Perform multiple tests to measure your site’s usability and design acceptance.
- Mix and match several tests to meet the site’s needs.
- Customize the tests and measure the site’s elements that pique your interest.
Metrics That Should be Followed to Carry Out the Web Design Audit
Any website audit company follows certain metrics to perform a web design audit job. The metrics they follow are:
- Visual Branding Audit: Audit professionals should have a proper understanding of the design collaterals, such as ads, desktop & mobile versions, business cards, social media posts, mobile apps, etc. that are important touchpoints for any customer. A customer can notice any kind of deviation in the design pattern for these collaterals. By evaluating the materials, recognizing the voice and tone inconsistency will be easy. Accordingly, the voice and tone can be changed to make the brand look more authentic.
- Website & Mobile Analytics: Analytics tools offer the quantitative information that is needed for the design audit process. Make sure you look at the big picture when you’re analyzing data, rather than just focusing on individual data points.
- Heuristic Evaluation: Heuristic evaluation is known to provide qualitative data. This evaluation method is used to find usability problems within a user interface design, hence, making the issues addressable and easily solvable during the interactive design process.
- User Surveys/Stakeholder Interviews: The comments and feedback gathered from surveys can be used for the design audit. The feedback can be easily organized into respective categories, such as tasks and findings per screen. Once the data is organized it can be studied depending on the severity of opinion.
- Previous Product Requirements: This metric helps you to understand why certain design decisions occurred in a certain manner. With this information, it becomes easy to offer useful recommendations.
Insights Gathered from the Design Audit Process
A design audit helps businesses to identify the bottlenecks in the design and even the usability issues. This paves the path for a better understanding of what design will work and what won’t.
It even helps to find out what users are looking for or where they are getting stuck in the design interface and thus leaving the site.
To be more specific, the results of the audit can be categorized under the following pointers:
- Value Proposition
Who Needs Design Audit & When?
Companies that have been around for some years start to expand in different directions. This might create some inconsistencies. Over time, these inconsistencies could damage the brand’s reputation. This is when companies need to perform design audits.
Every company, be it big or small, would benefit from the web design audit process. Why? Companies usually rely on app developers to help design and develop new products, rather than UI/UX design professionals.
For such companies, design audits can restructure the present design and increase the interaction and conversion rate.
Other instances where design audits prove to be helpful are when any company plans to redesign some of its products. With the audit, a new face can be provided to the products.
How Long Does an Audit Process Take?
A design audit can take several days to complete and may take up to a month for a more thorough evaluation. The timeframe is not a definitive one as it might go up or down depending on the scope of the project.
However, the timeframe is enough for identifying more than 80% of the inconsistencies in the design. During this time the audit experts reach out to the clients and pinpoint the optimal project terms.
At eWay Corp, our experienced team is more than happy to assist you. Our designers will help you to locate the usability issues and provide actionable solutions for the sites.
Design audits have gained a lot of popularity over the past few years. Companies that want to improve their brand consistency can benefit greatly from offering a great user experience.
A web design audit is meant for branding re-calibration. So, maintaining the voice and tone across all platforms for your brand is important. This calls for a comprehensive design audit through which brand consistency can be maintained.