We can think like users too...

Expert Review

  • Why and when

    Web Usability generally undertakes user research with ‘real’ users. However, sometimes an expert review can be a quicker and more cost effective alternative, and is also useful when combined with user testing as part of an iterative development programme.

    Expert reviews are useful if:

    • You have developed a prototype and want to review and identify any ‘obvious’ usability issues before incurring the cost of testing with ‘real’ testers
    • You want to evaluate very specific parts of your site before undertaking redevelopment
    • Time or budgets are so restricted that they don’t allow you to use ‘real’ user testing




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  • Our approach

    At the heart of Web Usability’s expert review is the recognition that a good user experience is the key goal for a successful website. A good user experience results when a user achieves their goals quickly and easily. An understanding of how ‘real’ users use a website is, therefore, crucial in understanding a site’s usability. Through our work testing websites with real people since 2002, we have built up considerable experience of looking at websites through users’ eyes.

    This expertise can be drawn on to identify the more obvious usability issues on a site in an expert review or audit. It is guided by our Usability Framework, which has been developed by reference to the academic literature and tested in a large number of usability testing sessions, where ‘real’ users have tested websites. It is, therefore, very user based.

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  • How we do it

    In order to ensure the expert review is appropriately focused, we start the process by talking to the project manager.

    This discussion allows the expert reviewer to understand the following:

    • The target site users – we need to be able to undertake the review from the perspective of the target users, taking account of their likely understanding of the site owner, goals they want to achieve, skills and experience, context, etc.
    • The site aims – we need to understand what the site owner expects the site to achieve for them so we can assess how well these aims are likely to be achieved
    • The site content and functionality – we need to have a comprehensive understanding of the site and what can be achieved on it

    The expert reviewer then undertakes an audit from the perspective of a user (or users) as agreed with the client:

    • The review is initially conducted by one expert evaluator
    • The review would include key user focused tasks based on the user journeys to be explored (to be agreed with the client)
    • The pages would be reviewed in the contexts of the user journey transition from search engine results page (SERP) to landing page (relevance and orientation), and the user journey within the site

    The pages would be reviewed against the criteria on our usability framework and any other criteria agreed with the client, focussing on:

    • The site information architecture and navigation – can users find the content they want?
    • The presentation of the content – how easy is it to read and assimilate?
    • The relevance and persuasiveness of the content – does the information meet the needs of the users and, where appropriate, does it encourage users to take action?
    • The usability of the transactional elements of the site – are they easy for the users to use?
    • The evaluator would categorize usability issues into three bands (Serious, Moderate, Minor). The focus of the review is normally to identify the serious and moderate usability issues
    • The conclusions of the review are confirmed/checked by a second evaluator
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  • Outputs

    We produce a full report or presentation, listing page by page all the issues noted and our prioritised recommended actions. This document will focus mostly on the ‘Serious’ and ‘Moderate’ issues. Screenshots of the pages are included to identify the issues.