Knowing what makes a good user experience (UX) is key to ensuring you’re delivering one; especially when you want to improve an existing product, service, or experience, such as your organization’s website or mobile app.
You may find your team wondering: Is a great experience different to every person? What is most important to improve in our product first for the biggest impact? Can we change an experience to make it better for one person without making it worse for another? Fortunately, you can rely on some tried and true characteristics that make for great user experiences time after time.
At Anthro-Tech Inc., these characteristics are referred to as the “10 Facets of Great UX” and they combine many industry standard frameworks (like Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design and Morville’s User Experience Honeycomb).
The 10 Facets Of Great UX
- Meeting user needs
- Flexible and efficient to use
- Provides relevant context when it's needed
- Easy to understand
- Prevents and helps recover from errors
- Avoids distractions
- Trustworthy and consistent
- Transparent and communicative
- Pleasing to use
If you can evaluate how well a product, service, or app is meeting those ten characteristics, then you can prioritize improvements to make the most difference for the best overall experience.
A Useful and Desirable Product Makes For a Great User Experience
These facets provide excellent coverage for all types of concerns relating to experience. Something being “usable” is a packed term – it means it feels comfortable to engage with, is efficient to use, can be navigated with minimal instruction, provides understandable content, avoids unnecessary errors, and provides guidance.
Going beyond “usable” and being “desirable to use” means being trustworthy and consistent in how the site or product operates, being responsive to requests and actions, and introducing elements that are enjoyable. “Desirable to use” is what keeps people wanting to come back – as opposed to not mindingcoming back.
All of this is carefully broken down and considered in an Expert UX Review, resulting in a detailed report of exactly what the site’s current strengths and weaknesses are in each Facet of Great UX.
The Value in Conducting an Expert UX Review
An Expert UX Review provides a comprehensive and reliable review of an existing experience and acts as a starting point for planning improvements that will make great leaps in the usability, accessibility, and desirability of that experience.
Having a User Experience Expert evaluate the product or service will uncover glaring issues and doesn’t require costly usability testing to find. Having this neutral third party who is solely looking at the value of the experience offered can lead to internal agreement and sets up a shared language to talk about improvement efforts and priorities.
Gathering Results and Analysis
An Expert UX Review is conducted by reviewing top user tasks for strengths and weaknesses of each facet and put together in a report that reveals the trends and themes of those strengths and weaknesses. Having this report makes it easy to see what sections of the experience are contributing well to a great experience, and which are showing up as weaknesses in multiple categories and need addressing.
For example, if your submissions from customers through an online form seem to always be filled out poorly, an Expert UX Review may reveal that the labels instructing users on what to input are weaknesses in a handful of important facets - like Transparent and communicative, Easy to understand, and Prevents and helps recover from errors. More specifically, perhaps the language contains a lot of industry jargon that might be unfamiliar to customers, there’s no consistency in whether the labels are phrased as questions or as requests, and there are no provided examples of what a good submission looks like – leaving people to guess. You can see how specifically identifying the weaknesses in that many facets will make it easy to target how to make a big improvement.
The Process of Conducting an Expert UX Review
The process and expert may change from project to project based on the expertise needed and the Facets that are applicable to the experience being evaluated. Typically, a “UX Expert” is someone who has experience with human-centered research or design, has a strong grasp of the standards for each Facet, and has reviewed background information on the users of that experience.
A UX Expert will work with those responsible for the product or service to understand as much as they can about the users’ backgrounds, needs, goals, and most frequently performed tasks in the product.
During a step-by-step walk through of those tasks, the Expert will identify any strengths or weaknesses in the 10 Facets of Great UX. Each weakness includes a description of the issue, where/when it’s occurring, a severity rating, and a recommendation for how to fix or further investigate the issue. Strengths include the description, where/when it’s occurring, and a reason why that’s a great thing to keep and expand upon in the experience. Depending on the service or website, reviews can be done on different devices, platforms, or settings.
A Real story of a Measurable Improvement
CapMetro, a transit agency in Austin, Texas had an upgrade coming to the customer interface for purchasing and managing rides. They wanted to make sure the new tools were as accessible and usable as possible. To prioritize development efforts in the later stages of building the software, they utilized an Expert UX Review and Accessibility Evaluation to provide them with a prioritized list of improvements to focus on.
They immediately saw improvements in user task success rates after fixing some of the key issues brought up in the reviews. The Expert UX Review covered the web portal, and the iOS and Android apps since each was a different environment customized specifically for those interfaces. Issues like, starting on the account page rather than the dashboard page after logging in, or revealing options hidden below a dropdown were identified as potential violations of Facet #6 – Prevents and helps recover from errors. Rounds of usability testing confirmed that those were in fact issues and that after the development team addressed them, task completion rates shot up.
Having an expert audit for common pitfalls and getting them resolved before a launch or even before a usability test will greatly increase the usability of a product or service and improve the quality of the feedback and findings in the future.
Expert UX Reviews will help you get unstuck and prioritize improvements. They provide a list of issues to resolve prior to doing any usability testing so that the testing isn’t wasted on surface level issues. They can home in on where feedback from actual users is needed in order to make improvements – the Expert may know UX but they cannot fill the shoes of the actual users.
Having a UX Expert conduct the review will give an exterior perspective on how to prioritize one change over another and allow those of differing perspectives the opportunity to see their points represented in a new way. Ultimately, an Expert UX Review leads to a more usable, accessible, and desirable product when issues and strengths are considered and addressed.