Conduct a UX heuristic review

Business benefits

Identify potential opportunities for optimization and areas of opportunity based on UX principles and expert analysis, that can be validated using other research methods.
Additional context on the UX heuristic review (please read before proceeding)

A UX heuristic review is a process of evaluating the user experience based on UX principles. Since there is no such thing as best practice when it comes to UX, and what works for one business or website doesn’t necessarily work for another, this activity needs to be conducted with caution.

Speero’s team has many years of combined experience optimizing websites, as such, the workshop described below can be described as an “expert review” where we assess the user experience using our expertise combined with our extensive knowledge of UX principles. Running a similar workshop session with a less experienced team can result in insights that are inspired by opinion more than expertise, which can lead to recommendations (JDIs and tests) that aren’t supported by actual user data.

Tips for UX heuristic review in the above situation:

  • If you don’t have the right people with the right experience available, skip the workshop session and instead focus on the scoring exercise, which is more suitable for less experienced teams.

  • If you do run the workshop session, ensure you only include insights and recommendations which are supported by other data sources (Analytics data, usability studies, heatmaps, etc.)

Put together a list of people to invite to your review session. Consider using this as an opportunity to engage more stakeholders with your experimentation.

For example, invite a customer service representative who has experience speaking to customers daily.

Plan a time to run the review session and write an agenda, or set up an asynchronous session if potential participants are having trouble finding a time.

Usually, 1 hour is enough time for the workshop – however, this will depend on how much material you’re trying to cover. 1 hour x 10 participants is a big investment from the business, so be respectful of people’s time.

Example agenda

Main room

  • Client background & task intro - 10 mins

Breakout rooms

  • Group breakout sessions (attendees review and add post its) - 25 mins
  • Group insight prioritization (attendees discuss their top 3-5 insights/areas of opportunity) - 10 mins

Back to main room

  • Each group presents top 3-5 key themes - 15 mins

This agenda can be tweaked based on the size of the group and the number of tasks/pages to review.

An asynchronous session involves the same process as a synchronous session, but you ask the attendees to access the board and add their insights in their own time. This is better suited to more experienced teams who need less support.

Prepare a board for the review session and allocate attendees to groups.

Add website screenshots to use for note-taking, write tasks, assign group moderators, and provide the board link in the review invite.

Run the workshop. Ensure that each participant can easily access the website and can see the UX heuristic guidelines you’re using.

Don’t review screenshots, as it’s easy to miss key insights about functionality – review the actual website itself.

Speero’s UX heuristic guidelines

Although there are many UX heuristic frameworks used in the industry, we utilize the CXL framework:

  • Relevancy: does the page meet user expectation – both in terms of content and design? How can it match what they want even more?
  • Clarity: Is the content or offer on this page as clear as possible? How can we make it clearer, simpler?
  • Value: is it communicating value to the user? Can we do better? Can we increase user motivation?
  • Friction: what on this page is causing doubts, hesitations and uncertainties? What makes the process difficult? How can we simplify? We can’t reduce friction entirely, we can only minimize it.
  • Motivation: Can we increase user motivation towards the conversion goal?

Each participant should go through key pages of the website and write notes on any aspect of the UX that does not adhere to Speero’s UX heuristic guidelines.

Add color-coded sticky notes on the board and place them on the relevant area of the screenshots.

For virtual meetings, use Zoom’s breakout room feature to split into groups. You will need to be the host, or be given host privileges.

Breakout rooms

Spend the first half of the session going through the scenario individually, and then as a group review your findings and agree on the top 3 insights. Choose someone to speak on behalf of the group.

Facilitation & Moderation

Appoint someone as a moderator in each group. They are ultimately responsible for the session, including timekeeping, explaining the tasks, and leading the discussion at the end.

Be clear about the timescales. Use timers and close the breakout rooms on time. Be specific when telling groups when the time will be over.

Top 3 insights per team and overall themes

Ask each group to present their top 3 insights. Although timekeeping is important here, this also presents an opportunity for discussion. It should be the role of the moderator to ask questions, and agree, or disagree with what each team is presenting.

Once all groups have presented their top 3 insights, spend some time identifying key takeaways from across the whole session. Summarize the key points within the Key takeaways section of the board. You could:

  • Add to the opportunities section while the teams are presenting and themes are emerging.
  • Run an additional short task for everyone to add their key takeaways based on what they found and what the other teams presented. This is optimum as it means everyone has to actually listen to each other present!

This is an important step as it helps us determine the key priorities/areas of opportunity and come away from the session with some clarity, rather than just lots of sticky notes.

Pick at least 3 people on the project team to copy the UX heuristics scoring template and score key pages of the website, adding notes on the rationale for their scores where relevant.

  1. Combine the scores from the individual spreadsheets into one and then calculate the averages for each guideline and the 5 UX principles.
  2. Decide which insights should be included in the report. Guidelines that have a total score of 0 are key opportunities that need to go into the presentation. Review the other scores and highlight any others which should also be a high priority. Some discussion should take place within the project team if scores are significantly different. For example, if one person scores a guideline 0 and someone else scores the same guideline with a 2.
  3. Calculate percentage scores for each guideline. This activity gives us a top-level view of where the main opportunities lie in terms of the main UX principles.

Summarize the insights that you gathered in the workshop and the scoring sheets on slides that you can present to stakeholders.

You can either:

  • Add a slide for each of the UX principles and summarize the key insights for each.
  • Add a slide for each key page or step of the journey and summarize the key insights for each.

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