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A quick guide to Mobile UX Diagnostics

Mobile UX diagnostics are not a requirement when you are building a mobile website or app, but if you want to put the best product out there then they should be.

Why do you need to consider using a mobile UX diagnostic? In a nutshell it is because it will uncover most of the top usability problems at various points in the design process and it is relatively inexpensive while being fast.

Interested yet? Of course you are!


Diagnostics are a very important part of the design process if you want to quickly improve a mobile experience and reduce flaws all while meeting the very high expectations of today’s users. A mobile UX diagnostic, or MUXD, is not a replacement for normal testing phases with actual users, but instead it is an additional layer of review that uses trained eyes to find problems early on.

These days the expectation for a mobile website or app is very high. With so many options out there, users have a low tolerance for faults and are quick to slam a company or product over a bad experience on social media and other channels.

So how do you make sure that the mobile experience you are providing meets and even exceeds your users’ expectations?

The answer is to conduct your own user experience diagnostic using mobile specialists during the design and development phases to ensure that you are finding potential problems and keeping the mobile website or app in line with best practices and guidelines. This type of MUXD also provides a great starting point to identify opportunities for improvement which could then be utilized in a later version or if a redesign is needed.

Nuts and Bolts of a MUXD

Ideally you will have a diagnostic done by multiple evaluators with different backgrounds in the design phase. If you are truly looking for the best user-experience, then your evaluators should be well versed in the principles of both user experience and interface guidelines.

Again, this is not a replacement for testing with users, but a quick and inexpensive way to diagnose things as part of a user-centric design process. So how do you evaluate an app or mobile website?

  • Identify users and scenarios – For this step the idea is to assume the role of a typical user for the device and engage in a typical use of the website or app. You might be a 40-year-old divorced father shopping for his daughter or a 20-something tracking a package they ordered of the coolest new glasses from the online store. The user will be one identified based on traffic and analytics to be typical along with a common scenario. Once in the role of that user, the tester tries to mimic what they would do.
  • Perform the evaluation – Ideally you will have a few people conducting independent evaluations. Each reviewer not only assumes a role and completes a scenario but then also performs some rapid benchmarking compared to similar sites or apps and then a third evaluation for an overall UX. Overall UX review includes reviewing installation, onboarding, cross-channel experience, reviews, comments and feedback to gain a better picture as a whole of the app or site. Evaluators will take notes and screenshots to better help the review and documentation phase. After all of that testing, each expert will then evaluate any key areas not covered using their own UX expertise and knowledge.
  • Review – The review should be a team session that includes all evaluators. During the session data will be compared and validated. All problems should be discussed including providing a severity score and possible solutions.
  • Document – Finally an evaluation report is prepared that provides problems in order of severity and recommendations. Ideally a presentation will include methodology and approach along with presenting findings in a non-judgmental way. This process is meant to improve the offering as a whole, not point fingers for errors.

The Bottom Line

All mobile websites and apps have problems. The goal of any designer, of course, is to have all of the problems fixed before launch which often requires a great deal of testing. While some businesses only engage in end-user testing which puts the finished or almost-finished product in the hands of users to identify problems, using MUXD as well makes a lot more sense.

A focused diagnostic performed by experienced eyes will help find those top usability problems early on which will then allow smoother solutions to be implemented during the process rather than being in a rush for quick fixes at the end of the journey. That is why mobile UX diagnostics should be a requirement when you are building a mobile website or app if you want to put the best product out there for your users.



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