An Expert Evaluation Can Bring Your Digital Strategy into Focus

This time of year, the AnswerLab team consults with many of our clients who are in the thick of year-end planning for various User Experience projects – whether it be a site redesign, enhancement, or new app.

As year-end deadlines draw near, there are often trade-offs that need to be made, with teams revisiting functional and user experience requirements for their products and asking themselves “What should we focus on RIGHT NOW, and what can wait until later?” Those are questions we answer for clients with Expert Evaluations (also known as Heuristic Reviews) to identify the opportunities for making the most significant impact overall to the User Experience. How? We evaluate your site or app by comparing it against a recognized set of best practices, and make prioritized recommendations to take the User Experience to the next level.

The outcome of an Expert Review can help to answer two key questions to inform your product development strategy:

  1. How should I spend the rest of my budget through the end of the year (what’s the most bang for my buck?)
  2. What should I be thinking about longer term and budgeting for next year?

How does it work?

An AnswerLab researcher with subject-matter expertise in your industry evaluates your site or app, walking through key tasks/scenarios that you would expect your target audience would. Using the “heuristics” (a.k.a. best practices) as a guideline, the expert notes areas where the experience has opportunity for improvement. Recommendations are prioritized in order to help teams identify the opportunities that have the greatest overall potential for improving the user experience.

How long does it take?

A relatively simple Expert Review can be completed within about two weeks. It’s a great option for teams who are in the midst of decision making and would appreciate a User-centric perspective from professionals exposed to a variety of experiences across platforms and across industries, but may not have the luxury to conduct primary research at this point in time.

How much does it cost?

Expert Reviews are quite flexible in terms of fitting within a range of budgets, the primary drivers for price being the number of tasks to evaluate and whether or not the team would like us to do a comparative evaluation of competitors as well to benchmark how the experience fits within the competitive landscape.

When would I conduct an Expert Review v. Usability Testing with real customers?

An Expert Review is an ideal tool when:

  • A site/app is in very early stages of development, and you’d like to fine-tune before conducting Usability Testing
  • The project timeline or budget does not allow for Usability Testing
  • You’d like to assess how your site compares to others in the market place – where do you have the edge, and where might you need to catch up?

What Expert Reviews have you done in the past?

Expert Reviews are one of our most popular consultative offerings, here are a couple of recent examples:

  • New mobile app for health care provider: A health care provider needed a quick “gut check” on their first mobile app that was designed to enable patients to easily locate health care services. The Expert Review identified critical design elements that hadn’t been “mobilized,” and would potentially undermine the overall utility of the app. This insight enabled the team to make just-in-time fixes to the experience prior to launch.
  • Shopping cart experience: We conducted an assessment of the end-to-end shopping experience for a large retailer, benchmarking it against best practices and their competitors. The insights drove the product development plan for a year beyond the engagement.
  • Mobile app for consumer products company: One of the world’s leading food companies planned to launch one of the first branded smartphone apps, and one of the first apps in the consumer product goods industry. To get a quick understanding of how to reach app store users before engaging in more in-depth usability research, they leveraged AnswerLab’s app marketing best practices to refine their product strategy. After launch, the app went on to win a 2009 CLIO award and was a 2011 nominee for Mashable’s best branded mobile app award.

If you believe a heuristic review meets your business goals and time and budgetary constraints, contact us to learn more.