UX Review: Emergency Measures

If you’re working on a product and have no particular understanding of UX, you can still do a basic UX review to stop the most obvious disasters. This will not be as good as getting a UX expert or experienced UX-QA to review the product, but it will be much better than nothing.

First, describe the process the users have to perform to reach every objective. Really break it down, step by step, but don’t explain how the UI does it. If we take an example of a calendar app, we could describe the event creation process as “pick date, pick start and end time, enter label and description” and so on.

Now match the process to the UI. This will immediately alert you to extra steps, and steps that have jumped the queue. A little more attention, and you should be able to see where you’re confusing users, slowing them down, interrupting their work-flow and so on.

Some things to look out for:

1. Places where you spend a lot of time looking for the obvious action. For example, if the obvious action in a work-flow is to click Save, and Save it hidden in a sub-menu, that’s a waste of the users’ time. Confusing icons also qualify.

2. Places where the controls are so small or hard to use that you had to try several times to get anything done.

3. Places where it isn’t obvious what the next logical step is. The worst example of this I know is a programme where some of the actions are only available via keyboard short-cuts, but nowhere is a list of these short-cuts provided; users constantly reach a dead-end. A variation on this is not letting users know that a process has ended, meaning there are no more steps necessary but the users don’t know this and keep looking for something to do.

4. Places where you’re forcing unnecessary actions. An over-abundance of messages that need to be manually dismissed qualifies. Having to go back and forth between two pages or windows also qualifies.

5. Take a look at the texts. There are some tips here and here.

Again, these are only emergency measures – a basic run-down to get you past the most obvious mistakes. When you’re done with that, you’ll want to google “UX mistakes” or something along those lines and get a better understanding of the field.

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