How to assess the UX of a website: A framework

Looking to understand how you can properly assess the UX of your website? You’ve come to the right place. We specialise in UX and UI improvements, web design and development, and know exactly what will both help and hinder your site from a usability perspective.

The User Engagement Framework: A Holistic Approach

Our approach to assessing and improving user experience isn’t looking down a list. The way we do it is circular, because we know that improving your site is a never-ending journey, with no set start or end point. This framework measures the quality and impact of users engagement with the ‘thing’ they’re engaging with. So, here, we’ll go through everything that we know. We’ll explore how to conduct your very own UX evaluation. And if at the end of this you want someone to do it for you, you know where we’re at.

So, we use a circular framework, and emphasise that the UX journey is an ongoing process. This framework comprises four critical pillars: usability, trust, emotion, and action.


Prefer to watch a video?

We did a webinar on how to improve the UX of your website.

4 circles with arrows connecting them in a circular framework model. from the left, it says usability, then moves around clockwise to trust, then emotion, then action.

Usability: The Foundation of UX Design

We love a metaphor here at Dawn. Makes things more interesting. So. Think of your website as a well-paved road, and your users as travellers. Just as travellers need clear, obstacle-free paths, users need a smooth digital journey. Usability, often at the heart of UX design, focuses on making your website as user-friendly as possible, removing any roadblocks that might get in the way for your users, ensuring their journey is seamless.

One vital aspect of usability is crafting a clear and concise product overview.
Your website’s title and the first line of copy should provide a short, easy-to-understand summary of your product, acting as road signs guiding users on their journey. In a recent UX review we did for a global client, we started here, advising them that the headline needed to get to the point. It’s the same on landing pages. Get to what you’re trying to say, as soon as you can. There’s nothing worse than potential customers thinking “what is it these guys do?”.

Trust: Building Credibility

Trust is the foundation of any successful website. Users need trust in the reliability of your brand, product, and values. Trust is a measure of the effectiveness of your UX design, and it heavily impacts user satisfaction / customer satisfaction, and the success rate of your website. But how do you know if you’re building that trust? Or when you’re breaking it?

Think of your own experience on a website. No reviews? How do you know it’s legit? Filling in a form with no way of opting out of potentially spammy emails? When something just doesn’t sit right with you, there’s a subliminal feeling that you might not be able to trust this company, and you might move onto the next.

Let’s look at one powerful method to build trust: showcasing customer reviews. These reviews are like glowing recommendations from fellow travellers, reassuring new users and those on the fence about whether to commit. It feels real. Like you’re not taking too much of a chance, if other people have had a good experience. However, you need to strike a balance. Displaying too few reviews could have the opposite effect and deter users. We recently worked with a client who needed to boost their credibility. By adding more reviews and testimonials, they witnessed a surge in user trust, leading to higher conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

Emotion: Creating a Connection

To provide a memorable user experience, your website should evoke emotions in users. This can significantly impact customer satisfaction, the average time users spend on your website, and the success rate of your business objectives.

Consistency is the key to creating this emotional connection. Users appreciate consistency in the user interface, experience and content design. Competing messaging or inconsistency between your title, subtitle, and content can confuse users. Confusion is not an emotion you want people to be feeling on your site. In a recent UX review, we focused on aligning a client’s messaging with their brand values, creating a deep emotional connection with their users and ultimately driving higher engagement.

Action: Turning Engagement into Results

Usability, trust, and emotion should ultimately lead to action, much like a successful road trip leading travellers to their desired destination. Highlighting areas that could encourage or discourage user action is vital.

One common issue to address in this context is inconsistent calls-to-action (CTAs). The prominence of CTAs should remain consistent across different breakpoints and devices, aligning with your UX design. Users should feel guided, not confused. We recently worked with an e-commerce client whose CTA buttons lacked consistency, causing user frustration. After standardising their CTAs, they witnessed an increase in conversion rates and a decrease in abandonment and bounce rates.

At the end of a user’s action, they’ve either completed their journey, or the engagement framework cycle starts again and the user repeats the cycle.


The Engagement Framework in Action

At Dawn Creative, we use the engagement framework you just read about to conduct in-depth reviews of core pages on a client’s website. These insights gathered during the review process guide the subsequent design and build phases, ultimately reducing error rates, abandonment rates, and enhancing UX. In a recent UX review, we identified various issues such as inconsistent CTA prominence, content hierarchy challenges, and mobile design quirks. By making multiple smaller improvements to the user experience, we drastically improved conversion, performance, load times and enhanced the user experience for our client’s website

Measuring Your Website’s UX

Now we’ve looked at the framework, what should you include?
Here are seven ways to measure your website’s UX effectively.

  • Tracking User Interaction with Forms
    Analytical tools like Hotjar can provide valuable insights into user interactions with forms, ensuring they are user-friendly and efficient in reducing error rates.
  • Analysing Navigation Patterns
    Assess the smoothness of navigation using heat maps to identify user preferences and behaviours, helping you understand what attracts visitors and what they prioritise.
  • Conducting Usability Testing
    Evaluate and enhance your website’s UX by conducting usability testing, including tasks, observations, and analysis. As Kyle Cassidy said in a recent podcast episode with us, make sure you get qualitative data too, rather than just working with numbers. How does it feel when moving along the website journey? This approach is crucial in identifying and rectifying user pain points, ultimately leading to a higher success rate.
  • Monitoring Page Views and Time on Page
    Keep a close eye on page views and the time users spend on pages to evaluate the effectiveness of your UX. Higher page views and longer time on page can suggest a positive user experience, contributing to the success rate of your website.
  • Running Customer Success Surveys
    Conduct surveys to gather user feedback and understand their satisfaction and happiness levels, allowing you to make data-driven improvements and enhance success rates.
  • Tracking Page Load Speed
    The speed at which your web pages load is essential for a seamless user experience. Optimising page load speed ensures swift user interactions and lower abandonment rates. Using tools such as Google Lighthouse can help you check your page load speed. Too slow? Make sure you’re compressing your photos and removing any code bloat at the very least to avoid unnecessary delays in your pages loading.
  • Utilising Objective-Based and Qualitative Metrics
    As we’ve mentioned, you’ve got to have a bit of both. The numbers and the soft stuff too. Measure your website’s UX through objective-based metrics such as conversion rates and qualitative metrics like user feedback and satisfaction surveys, providing a holistic view of your user experience. This approach helps in understanding real user experiences, improving your UX, and contributing to a higher success rate.
mockup of someone using HotJar.

Key Tools for UX Analysis

In-depth UX analysis requires the use of key tools that provide valuable data and insights, ensuring a smoother journey for your users. Tools like Hotjar can be employed to understand user interactions with forms, heat maps can help analyse navigation patterns, and surveys can collect essential feedback for improvement, aligning with your UX design goals. Google Lighthouse, as we’ve just mentioned, is another great tool for assessing performance, accessibility, best practices and SEO.

In summary

In the world of UX, it’s not just about design; it’s about understanding user behaviour, aligning with business objectives, and continually improving the user experience through usability testing and iterative enhancements. These metrics and aspects play a key role in ensuring that your website remains engaging, user-friendly, and aligned with your goals.

At Dawn, we love anything that can squeeze even 1 percent more out of your website. Let us help you figure out how you can make those changes that will make your user’s experience better, make them trust your company, and not get that feeling of annoyance when things just don’t work perfectly. Get in touch today.