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5 Common Mistakes Made by UX Design Reviewers

Imagine this scenario: You stumble upon a new website, and it is beautiful. The interface design has been well thought out with fantastic style and engaging content. You start moving around the website, but then notice that the site navigation is confusing and other parts of the site have tons of hiccups. What seemed like a great website soon turns into a black hole of issues. You are experiencing…. a bad user experience (UX).

Usability and user experience testing is vital to creating a successful interactive system. When UX design reviewers carry out their analysis, this can be an effective way to spot out usability bloopers. Oftentimes interactive systems fail the UX review tests because the system is sloppy with the basics, including text legibility, form fields best practices, and use of space. In fact, according to Forrester, only 3% of websites earn a passing score from all of their reviews.

A good user experience designer will not only be able to spot out all the UX and usability bloopers, but also provide critical recommendations for a better user experience. However, it is not always the case that a team can afford a UX designer, so they conduct UX reviews themselves. Below is a list of five common critical mistakes that reviewers make and how you can avoid making these same mistakes:

1. UX Design Reviewer Does Not Put Herself in the User's Shoes

A good UX review requires a deep understanding of the real user’s behavior. However, often times the UX design reviewer makes critical mistakes by failing to consider users’ perspectives, and instead evaluates the interactive system from their own biased perspective. The fact is, it doesn’t matter what the reviewer likes—their personal opinion does not matter.

By reviewing the interface from personal taste and perspective, someone conducting a UX review cannot predict the potential problems that the real users will encounter. Therefore, from the start, the reviewer must know who their users are and place herself in their shoes.

In order to avoid this mistake, place yourself into the user’s shoes and predict their “future.” What this means is that once you fully understand your user, then you are able to predict why and what specific tasks that user will carry out on your interactive system. From there, you can better predict what and where users will encounter issues (see user stories and walkthroughs below).

2. Using Only One Set of UX Principles

UX designers all have their go-to UX principals such as the Nielsen’s heuristics; however, sometimes having just one best practice is fairly too generic and may even seem a little vague, especially when its applied to new technology. Though UX principals are based on decades of research, when applied to the ever-changing technology, reviewers should use a combination of essential UX principles for a more accurate review.

Experienced UX design reviewers will actually develop their own preferred UX checklist because compliance to the guideline changes as technology changes. There are many methods for carrying out a proper UX review.

If you don’t have much experience conducting UX reviews, the first step is to define each key user scenariothat defines user goals. This way, you create a means of evaluating the interactive system’s user experience by testing how well it supports common user tasks. The next step is to conduct a cognitive walkthrough through the scenarios.

3. Identifying 'False Alarms' as Real Problems

Just because a practitioner lacks experience does not mean she is not certified to review the user experience. It could however, mean that he or she might not be able to distinguish between a genuine problem that will affect real users, or a ‘false alarm’ that will go unnoticed.

If you don’t have much experience conducting UX reviews, that’s okay. You can easily develop a seasoned taste by spending more time in the usability test lab. Sit in on a usability test and observe how others may approach the design, or better yet, be a participant yourself. With more practice, you’ll be able to better distinguish the real problems from the false alarms.

4. Only Identifying Issues and Not Providing Solutions

It’s important for UX design reviewers to provide actionable solutions that designers and developers can easily implement. Otherwise, new issues will be created.

Designers and developers need guidance about what changes need to be made to resolve UX bloopers. Sometimes a disconnection occurs when a resolution is not provided. Therefore, it is important to not only identify issues, but also to provide interface design solutions. The best solution is usually a visual example of another interface that follows best UX practices.

5. Diving Straight Into a Review Without Creating a Plan

Some experts will dive straight into a review without creating an appropriate plan as to how they will disseminate the results. They should be reviewing from a broader level, taking notes of any major problems and bloopers in key areas in addition to specific interface design issues.

Often times the design team does not thoroughly read through the UX review report and will miss the major bloopers that need to be fixed. In order to avoid that problem, it’s important to outline the big picture before delving further into details.

 In conclusion, UX reviews are a great way to ensure that real users are fully engaged and interested in the interactive system’s interface. It goes without saying though that the UX reviews should be carried out without personal opinions—the UX design reviewer must put himself into the real user’s shoes, use more than one method of review, acquire the skill to dismiss false alarm, create a non-biased recommendations, identify issues as well as solutions, and create a review plan.

About the author:

Jinny Oh

Jinny is an entrepreneur, social media guru, and guest blog writer on a variety of topics.