How to Conduct a UX Audit to Improve Usability for E-Commerce Websites

Wondering what’s involved in a UX audit, and why you might consider getting one for your website or app?

A UX audit (also known as a site audit) is a step-by-step process that helps you spot user experience problems, so you can fix them with proven UX design principles and improve your e-commerce conversion rates.

Suppose your website, app, or other digital product isn’t performing the way it used to, or it’s encountering unexplained issues. In that case, a UX audit will help you determine what’s happening and give you suggestions for resolving the problems.

UX audit experts rely on hard data to conduct all of the steps of a site review, so they give recommendations based on real research and benchmarks.

What Is a UX Audit?

A user experience audit aims to identify potential usability issues based on many hours of UX research. For instance, an e-commerce site audit might reveal usability issues on the mobile version of the site that make it harder for people to make a purchase.

Let’s say your company sells luxury watches through an e-commerce website. Thousands of visitors browse your site every day, looking for the right watch. They navigate from the home page, to category pages, to individual product pages.

Once the user has selected a watch they like, they add it to their cart. They almost complete the entire checkout process — but somewhere along the way something goes wrong, and they don’t buy the item.

When you see this pattern in the data, your company should ask, “Is there a user experience problem that is causing us to lose all of these sales?”

The difficult thing is that you won’t know if your website needs a slight tweak or if your UX design process needs a total overhaul. And if it does just need a small change, at what point in the user journey does it need to happen?

A UX audit can help you figure out the answers to those questions.

You can take the recommendations you receive from your UX audit, and use them to create a more seamless user journey that leads to greater customer engagement, higher satisfaction, and more sales.

Therefore, getting a UX audit can be a critical part of the conversion optimization process.

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What Happens During a UX Audit?

So, what happens during a UX audit?

During the review, UX experts use several tools, metrics, and methods to analyze different parts of the website, including all of the pages, navigation, search functions, and more.

UX audits are different from usability testing, but the data from both of these strategies can be used in conjunction to continually improve websites and conversions and provide a faster, easier, more enjoyable user experience.

Benchmarking, or comparing a site or app’s user experience to a meaningful metric, is often part of a UX audit as well. Auditors look at quantitative benchmarking data and compare it to a different set of data, like industry standards and your company’s competitors.

Benchmarking doesn’t just give you information during the audit process that you can use immediately. Those baselines and comparisons will also help you continue to track your progress on an ongoing basis.

What Are the Benefits of a UX Audit?

UX audits provide customized, actionable recommendations for improving the UX of your website or app.

Primary benefits of doing a UX audit:

  • Increasing customer satisfaction because you’re improving the functionality of your site
  • Decreasing user frustration
  • Enabling data-driven decisions that help you lower your customer acquisition and handling costs
  • Increasing CLV (customer lifetime value) and retention
  • Reducing development costs
  • Gaining a better understanding of what your users want and need
  • Increasing your conversion rate and raising profits

Your audit is like a health checkup for your website, and it can be conducted at any stage of your product’s lifecycle to identify issues and areas for improvement.

What About the Limitations of UX Audits?

The costs involved in a complete professional site audit can be significant, so it’s not a good fit for every company. You must communicate your goals with auditors and discuss the best ways to get the highest return on investment from the review process.

A good auditor will help you prioritize the recommendations they make, but the amount of data that comes back from the audit process can initially be overwhelming or disheartening.

An audit might not be the perfect solution for you if you’re under a tight development schedule. It takes time to perform a comprehensive user experience site audit.

What Does a UX Audit Determine?

One primary way of conducting UX audits is a heuristic evaluation. Heuristics is an approach to problem solving that uses experimental or practical ways to produce solutions.

During a heuristic evaluation, your auditors will put themselves in the shoes of your users and go through the website or app as if they were the user.

They will take notes and capture screenshots as they attempt various tasks, so they note every challenge a user would encounter. This process is often based on pre-set usability heuristics.

After the audit is complete, reviewers compile findings and provide an overview of the data, giving recommendations for improving the UX to improve conversions.

For example, usability testing could show that customers hesitated to input their credit card information because the checkout UX was difficult or they didn't feel their transaction was secure. In that case, the auditor might recommend adding trust signals like security badges.

The Baymard UX Audit Process

Experienced usability researchers at Baymard offer comprehensive UX audits based on 130,000+ hours of UX research. Audits are customized for the business goals of the website or app.

Here are the different pieces of the audit analysis, deliverables, and costs:

A Full UX Analysis and Assessment

UX experts from Baymard will perform an unbiased analysis of your site, documenting its UX performance across 500 unique parameters, and comparing your UX performance to leading e-commerce sites across those metrics.

Your UX analysis and assessment cover both desktop and mobile websites, including:

  • The homepage
  • Category navigation
  • On-site search
  • Product detail pages
  • Product lists and filtering
  • Checkout process
  • “My account” section

Detailed 120+ Page Report

After the comprehensive audit, you will receive a detailed 120+ page report with 40 research-backed suggestions for improving your site and increasing conversions. Recommendations will cover visual design, responsive design, content clarity and more.

Each suggestion includes a description of the user experience issue, along with a proposed solution and 1 to 4 best practice implementation examples from sites leading in e-commerce UX.

UX Scorecards

After the review and the report are complete, auditors will provide 7 detailed UX scorecards for your site, based on 500+ UX performance scoring parameters against competitors among the 214 top-grossing U.S. and European e-commerce sites. You can use the insights on these scorecards to improve your website.

These scorecards provide comparison scores on:

  • Homepage and category navigation
  • Search experience
  • Product list and filtering
  • Product detail pages
  • Checkout processes
  • Customer account
  • Mobile-specific issues

Audit Discussion and Implementation

When your entire audit is complete, Baymard will schedule a 2-hour video conference to walk through the results with your team and provide details about the research and findings of the auditors.

After the audit walkthrough video conference, you’ll get follow-up calls with your UX auditors so you can ask additional questions about implementation, or get feedback on redesigns or prototypes your team creates.

How Much Does a UX Audit Cost?

Baymard offers two UX audit options. Our recurring UX Partnership includes an annual UX audit accross all 7 audit focus areas. It also comes with ‘Audit Specialty’ Premium access (a $2,600 value), 12 follow-up calls with your Baymard auditor, and 3 complimentary UX Training and Certification seats (normally $300/seat per year) for $12,700 (USD) per year.

In comparison, a Baymard stand-alone audit includes 3 follow-up calls without complimentary Baymard Premium access for $15,800 (USD).

How Can a UX Audit Improve Conversion?

Even minor conversion rate improvements can make a significant difference in website sales, leading to a high return on investment for your UX review.

For example, an improvement from 3.1% to 3.6% in conversion rate for a site with $50,000,000 annual sales will yield $8,060,000 in extra sales every year.

On average, businesses report a $100 ROI out of $1 invested in their user experience.

Work with a UX Audit Expert Team to Improve User Experience and Usability for Your E-Commerce Site

The Baymard UX Audit Expert Team can help you uncover usability issues with a full-site UX audit.

Baymard’s audit services are most commonly used by:

  • Sites that would like to benchmark their UX performance to see how they stack up against major competitors and other leading websites
  • Sites that would need inspiration and verification of their new redesign
  • Optimized e-commerce sites that want to bring in a pair of external and unbiased eyes to identify final tweaks and improvements
  • Agencies, designers, and tech vendors that want reassurance that they’re on the right track with their client’s e-commerce design

Email to talk about your goals and discuss Baymard’s UX research methodology.

Free Report: 7 Quick UX Fixes for Your E-Commerce Site

Get a curated selection of e-commerce best practices from our 130,000+ hours of research.

Instantly get the report plus Baymard’s UX research insights by email