Delivering great user experiences requires in-depth understanding of the foundation we have to build from. Conducting a full-scale audit, regardless of the kind of project, is a key requirement to obtain clarity and assess critical areas to focus on. At Copious, we kick off projects with a round of discovery across usability, content, technology, and brand experience. Bringing in team leads across design and development allows us to be thorough, and ensure goals are aligned from the outset.

At Copious, we kick off projects with a round of discovery across usability, content, technology, and brand experience. Bringing in team leads across design and development allows us to be thorough, and ensure goals are aligned from the outset.

Design

Heatmaps are a helpful method we typically use to quickly understand how users are interacting with an existing site. With an analytical eye, we’re able to discern user patterns, friction points, and opportunities that will help us improve the experience.

Google Analytics and other site analysis tools are also a core driver as we develop user paths, helping validate decisions with real user behavior. Combined with heat map data, we can understand what users value and need most.

We also leverage any existing user research we can find, from our clients or external industry resources. A digital landscape analysis is a typical deliverable that helps us share relevant best practices and paradigms to foster meaningful discussion and ultimately shape our work.

All of these pieces, strengthened by findings from first-hand user research, inform a usability audit full of actionable, prioritized recommendations. These insights become catalysts for simplifying and improving user experiences over time.

Content

Although we consider content a piece of the design process, the content audit is a distinct facet of our discovery process that helps underscore UX decisions in a different way. Working closely with our clients, we look at content across all touchpoints to understand their priorities, recognize themes, and identify gaps.
We collaborate with clients to capture a complete quantitative snapshot of brand and editorial content. For digital commerce projects, we also capture product information at a quantitative level, documenting product lines, types, and attributes.

Using what we’ve learned about business and customer goals (usually in design thinking and customer journey mapping workshops), we can recommend areas to add, remove, or update content for enriching the experience. This is especially helpful once we start to build sitemaps and form an information architecture, as we have a solid understanding of what is already in place.

Technology

Because digital commerce often involves more than a few technologies and tools, we do a comprehensive audit to understand how everything works together. A basic assessment of systems informs our recommendations for hosting, and potential feature capabilities. Testing and assessing integrations also help us find opportunities to improve efficiency.

In some cases, a look under the hood uncovers a spectrum of technical debt. When we understand where issues or shortcuts are potentially hindering performance, we can develop a plan to simplify complexities. Once we have a clear picture of the systems at play, we can create a strategic roadmap to apply best practices and deliver scalable, reliable, and consistent solutions.

Brand

The final piece of our discovery process is an audit of brand elements. We review the consistency of an existing site to note any areas of potential conflict. We can also identify and vet brand preferences, conventions, and legacy decisions. Gauging the foundation we have to work with helps guide the overall tone of the experience we create through design and content tactics.

Bringing it together

With insights across our client’s brand, content, design, and technology, we can pull our findings and recommendations together in a cohesive, actionable report. Once we’ve evaluated the various facets of an existing experience, we can plan a deliberate strategy for improving it—like we did with Chrome and prAna. The audit also gives clients a resource for future improvements to guide their teams around an aligned roadmap. Ultimately, the audits we execute help us do the best work we can for our clients and their customers.