94% of first impressions are design-related. And a positive first impression always increases interaction. So, design is an invaluable criterion that influences user experience.
But the thing with design is that it is not constant. With the continuously evolving UX design trends, “design check” is a process that needs to be performed to make sure that a website is still in the game. A design audit is nothing but this “design check”.
What Is a Design Audit?
A design audit is an evaluation process performed to ensure that a product/service is being expressed consistently across all mediums. The mediums can be websites, social media, or physical stores- wherever the brand image can be applied. The goal of a design audit is to make the design uniform so that no matter where a customer comes in touch with your design, the message conveyed is consistent.
Consistency is the keyword for a design audit. To build trust, consistency is very important. Inconsistent design confuses users, and confused users do not become loyal customers. When a brand design is consistent, it appears confident, established and induces reliability and trust in users.
Why Is a Design Audit Important?
As companies grow, their potential develops. In such situations, the previous design might begin to look outdated or inconsistent. A design audit can help to see if a website design aligns with an organization’s growth.
Here are some ways in which a design audit can help improve your product/service:
- Ensure consistency in design to create a unique brand image among the target audience. This includes not just the visual design but also the written content and tone of voice.
- Identify the design aspects that are no longer relevant and upgrade the design to align with the current organization growth.
- Helps to look at the entire brand design from a bird’s eye view, perform a complete evaluation, and find areas that need a redesign.
Thus, the design audit is a window to strengthen the overall dimensions of a product, including its quality, usability, and user experience.
Who Needs a Design Audits and When?
Mostly, when companies have been around for some time, they expand, and naturally, they will have a lot going on in different directions. This will create inconsistencies, which initially might appear to be insignificant, but could add up over time to make a non-uniform brand image. Therefore, a design audit is a good practice when a product/service has been running for a while.
Every company can, in fact, benefit from a design audit. Often while designing a new product, companies use app development agencies to execute development and design instead of hiring a separate UI UX design agency. For such companies, design audits can help restructure their current design to increase interaction and conversion rates. Another situation where design audits can be helpful is when companies consider redesigning some products. Then design audits can help to create a new face and devise a new path.
How to Conduct a Design Audit Process?
Now that you have seen what a design audit is and its importance let’s see how to conduct a design audit process. A step by step process is generally followed for the auditing.
Step 1: Gather All Materials
The first step is a little complicated, but it is very essential. It includes gathering all the elements related to the brand in one place to obtain a complete overview of brand communication across various outlets.
The elements to be gathered include:
- Website pages
- Logo in all formats
- Advertisements, posts, and banners
- Marketing campaigns
- Business cards and flyers
Also, include any design work in progress or scheduled to be released.
When all the related elements are gathered, and when you look at the whole picture, you acquire a better perspective, and spotting disparities becomes easy.
Step 2: Analysis
Everything that is gathered in the first step is analyzed here. The focus is on consistency. The analysis can be further divided into three sections- that of design, tone, and font.
Here, design consistency is checked thoroughly. It includes an analysis of the following areas:
- Consistency of logo across all outlets
- The similarity in background patterns and styles so that transitions feel natural
- Consistency in navigation
- Consistent usage of brand color across all mediums and elements
- Comparison of landing page and main website and their relatedness
Like design, how a brand addresses its audience is a vital factor. Depending on the product/service, the tone may differ. What is essential is to ensure that across all mediums, the tone remains consistent. For example, if your brand has a playful style, it should reflect in the website content, social media content, advertisements, and wherever the brand interacts with the audience.
It might also be possible that, over time, as a brand evolves, there is a change in the way they want to address the audience. During the design audits, you can work on revising it entirely by looking at the brand tone, voice, and message across various mediums.
Typography has a crucial role in defining a brand image. It helps to create a brand personality. Your brand should have a set typeface, and it should be consistent across all platforms. Throughout the gathered materials, you should check for inconsistencies in typography. It includes font color, size, typeface, line space, and whitespace. Using varying typography for different mediums is not an appreciated practice and sends a confusing brand image to the audience.
Step 3: Creating a Report
Once the analysis is done, the next step is to create a detailed report presenting your findings. The report should contain what is right in the design, what is wrong, and what can be done to fix it. All the inconsistencies should be highlighted in the report, and ideas on how to avoid those can also be explained.
A detailed report will help the company officials at higher levels, and stakeholders understand the situation. When the analysis is presented with real-time data, it will be easier to convince high authority officials about the need for a design change.
Step 4: Take Actions
After the design audit review, it is time to get into action. Depending on the analysis report, the course of action can be determined.
If the inconsistencies are few, such as uneven logo usage or non-uniform background, you can address them immediately. Such small mismatches might have happened during initial development and do not take much time and effort to fix.
If the inconsistencies are substantial, then you should think of a design upgrade or redesign. For example, if you are using outdated trends or the design style does not carry the brand message, a redesign is a way to go. In such cases, it would be best to avail professional help. You can contact reputed UI UX design services to help you redesign your product/services.
Step 5: Creation of a Design Standard Manual
The final step is a step for the future. Here you compile all the design changes and guidelines into a document called Design Standard Manual. It can include guidelines about logo usage, typography, design style, and such. This can help designers keep a check on future designs, minimize inconsistencies, and on the whole, help them become a good UX designer. A standard manual can act as a guide for the entire team and can help to clarify the design goals, overall message, and visual branding of a product/service.
What Are the Insights From a Design Audits?
A design audit can help to provide an understanding of users’ satisfaction levels. It will give an insight into users’ expectations, experiences, pain points, and design bottlenecks. Design audit results can help organizations scrutinize the UI vs. UX aspects of their design and gain clarity on the following areas:
From the design audit result, you can understand if your product is significant to users. Does it solve any issues, do the users get some value- all this can be figured out.
You also get an insight into the transparency of the value that your product/service is offering. Is your message clear and coherent? Does it reach the users?
While performing a design audit, usability problems can easily be identified. Whether there are any confusing points in the design interface, if users experience any uncertainty in design that is affecting the conversion rate- these can be analyzed.
4. Call to actions
Audit results also give an insight into whether the call to actions are clear and visible, whether it is motivating users to perform actions.
How to Find a Good UX Agency to Conduct a Design Audits?
You must have understood that a design audit is a very valuable process for your business. It can help increase business conversions, improve your service quality, and enhance the UI UX design process. So how to find a good UX agency to conduct a design audit?
A reliable method is to enquire among your peers. This would provide you good recommendations of expert agencies that are trustworthy. Another approach is to go online and perform a search in ratings and review platforms. There are several such platforms online, such as Clutch that ranks websites based on verified and in-depth reviews collected from clients.
Aufait UX was named by Clutch as a top creative and design agency in India. We strive to provide complete user satisfaction, and our designs are truly user-centric. Get in touch with us if you want to hire a reputed agency to conduct a design audit for your website.