When planning for a key sales period, you do all you can to ensure success. You analyze sales figures from previous years, conduct a competitor analysis, go through rounds of product development, and plot out digital marketing campaigns. However, there’s one key element that you need to get right - your website.
Maybe you’ve noticed higher abandoned cart rates, or that traffic seems to be falling off after a certain point in the customer journey. You don’t have time to completely overhaul your store, so what do you do? And how do you understand why these issues are cropping up? That’s where a UX/UI audit becomes your most valuable tool.
What is UX/UI?
User Experience (UX) in ecommerce is used to describe how a user interacts with and experiences your store. This includes their perception of that experience - how it makes them feel, perceived ease-of-use, etc. When looking at UX, we’re looking at how each element on your store contributes to that experience. For example, on your homepage that might mean looking at your navigational structure, how the page is laid out, and how easy it is to navigate to product pages. We also look for things like page speed and accessibility.
User Interface (UI) refers to how your store looks and functions on a surface level. In other words, how the store is presented to the user and its interactivity. This includes fonts, color palettes, and layouts on the presentation side, and things like buttons and responsiveness on the interactivity side. When looking at UI, we’re looking at the elements such as the color choice and how they contrast i.e. can you actually read the text easily, or even the size of CTA buttons and if they’re easy to tap and use on mobile.
Both UX and UI work hand-in-hand, and you can’t really have one without the other. UX works on what will create a positive experience, UI is how that experience is presented.
What’s involved in an audit?
A UX/UI audit is a deep dive into your store, combining store data and testing as well as industry best practices. An audit will essentially walk through each part of the customer experience from design to functionality to speed and accessibility to determine where improvements should be made. An audit will typically involve the following:
This portion of the audit looks at your Shopify store data as well as Google Analytics to make recommendations on how to boost the stats that matter for your store and industry. A more in depth audit may also look at heat-mapping and your customer service strategy to better understand your customers’ and visitors’ current behaviors.
A full walk-through of the customer/user experience is conducted on both desktop and mobile, to better understand any potential points of friction and make note of any obvious improvements that could be made to streamline this.
Page speed is vital to user experience, therefore it's important to understand if your store is falling short. An audit will test page speeds of your store against industry benchmarks and highlight specific areas where speed could be improved.
Ensuring anyone and everyone can use your store is important. During the auditing process, your store will be tested and trawled to highlight any accessibility issues, with more in-depth audits also reviewing navigability, color and contrast, and form accessibility.
Are the apps you’ve installed working for you? A UX/UI audit will help you figure that out. The auditing team will review all current installed apps, highlighting any duplication of functionality, as well as recommendations of alternative apps that may better serve your goals.
By the end of the auditing process, you’ll have a much clearer picture of the experience your store offers to customers, and what more you could do to improve it. An audit will take the guesswork out of improving your customer experience, as the recommendations will be based not only on industry standards and best practices, but your individual store’s data meaning the improvements you make will be specific to your individual business and target audience.
4 reasons why UX/UI audits are valuable
#1 - Identify where your user experience could be improved
Experience in ecommerce is everything, and if your store is lacking then a potential customer will look to your competitors. Conducting a UX/UI audit allows you to see where you could fine-tune your experience, so that you don’t lose customers and sales based on small, easily remedied issues. For example, you may not realize that your CTA buttons on mobile are too small for users, or that your product pages are running slower than average due to poorly optimized content. Issues like these make your site difficult to use, and therefore less appealing experience wise to customers. A UX/UI audit will highlight these, and the team conducting the audit will be able to recommend how to fix certain elements so that your store is in peak condition for customers.
#2 - Boost SEO and discoverability ahead of key sales periods
Your store’s UX/UI doesn’t just affect your customers as they interact with your store, it also affects your SEO. There are several elements that will come up in a UX/UI audit that will also benefit your SEO strategy for key sales periods and beyond such as speed, accessibility, and even page experience.
Page speed is a key ranking factor for Google, especially with the implementation of core web vitals. The better your page measures up against those factors, the better chance it has to rank above your competitors. The reasoning behind this is that Google wants to deliver excellent experiences to its users; the better the pages it recommends, the more people will continue to use their service. Slow loading pages signal a poor experience, especially on mobile as page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases 123%. A UX/UI audit will highlight where your store is causing slower load times, and where you could make improvements so that you can boost speed and improve your page experience.
Other factors such as easy navigation, well designed page layouts, and accessible color choice along with page hierarchy all contribute to the user experience, and are therefore going to be important to search engines. Ultimately, making these changes brought up by an audit will allow you to optimize your store and improve discoverability ahead of key sales periods. Especially when it comes to periods such as Black Friday/Cyber Monday, discoverability is vital in customer acquisition so the more you can do now to improve your experience, the better for your rankings.
#3 - Discover new integrations to improve your store
As a Shopify merchant, you’ll have access to thousands of apps through the Shopify App Store. Whilst this is an incredible resource to have, it can also be difficult to know which integrations and apps will truly be best for your business goals and customers. Moreover in the day to day running of your business, your team may not have the time to step back and look critically at the apps your store uses and if they’re fit for purpose.
A UX/UI audit will look closely at the apps and integrations your store uses, and determine if they’re delivering the functionality you need. If you’re working with experienced Shopify Partners, they’ll also be able to recommend apps that they’ve previously worked and seen success with. This will save you time and effort searching for that perfect new integration that will improve your team and customers’ experiences, and retire those apps for which your store has outgrown their usefulness.
#4 - Improve conversion and retention rates
The better you make your experience, the more attractive it will be to potential and returning customers. 73% of US consumers say that customer experience is important in their purchasing decisions and 86% are willing to pay more for a better experience. By conducting an audit and implementing suggestions for improvement, you’ll be able to reduce as much friction in the customer journey as possible leading to more conversions. You’ll make that journey as easy and streamlined as possible, leaving little room for distraction as a result of something as small as a poorly placed call-to-action or slow loading checkout.
Beyond conversions, your improved experience will also boost retention rates. Customer expectations are high, and in order to build a base of loyal customers your experience needs to deliver on those expectations. Even if they love the company, 59% of consumers would stop shopping with them after a few bad experiences, and 17% would stop after just one poor experience. Therefore if your store has friction points that take away from their experience, you’re reducing the likelihood of them returning for a future purchase. A UX/UI audit will highlight these issues, allowing you to eliminate them and deliver the best possible experience to ensure customers want to come back time and time again.
In the day-to-day running of your business, it can be difficult to take a step back and look at how your store is actually functioning. A UX/UI audit is an invaluable tool that will help you to better understand your store, your customers, and where you’re losing potential customers. Especially ahead of key sales periods such as Black Friday/Cyber Monday where user experience is so important, the findings of an audit will allow you to make serious improvements that will have a long-term positive impact on your business.Interested in a UX/UI audit for your Shopify store? Click here to learn more about how we conduct ours, and reserve your audit with The Taproom ahead of the holiday season.