• UX Design

Catching the Elusive: How Can I Find UX Problems?

Dmitry Balyn
20 Aug 2020
7 min
Catching the Elusive: How Can I Find UX Problems?

UX design often gets overlooked. At the same time, 70% of online businesses fail because of poor user experience design. Unfortunately, no matter how useful and visually attractive your app or website is, users won’t like it if they struggle to use it. That said, finding a reputable UX/UI design service provider and giving UX the attention it deserves (even after the product release) can save you from going under. 
But while there is plenty of information on how to improve product usability, advice on identifying UX issues might be challenging to find. For your convenience, we’ve rounded up three pillars of stellar user experience every seasoned UX designer is familiar with — usability testing, user interviews, and analytics.

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    Usability testing 

    One of the most effective ways to identify UX product design issues is through usability testing. This approach measures how intuitive and easy-to-use a product is by testing it with real users. 

    Usability testing falls into four main categories: 

    • in-person UX testing with a moderator
    • remote UX testing with a moderator
    • in-person UX testing without a moderator
    • remote UX testing without a moderator

    Let’s consider each testing approach in detail. 

    In-person UX testing with a moderator

    Moderated in-person testing takes place in a lab. Participants use devices to work through different user scenarios while moderators coordinate the process and ask questions. Stakeholders observe participants from a separate room via a one-way glass. 

    The primary benefit of this type of user experience research is that all sessions take place under the same standard, which can be useful for further comparison. However, because of the limited number of participants and artificial laboratory settings that don’t represent reality, the results aren’t always indicative. 

    Remote UX testing with a moderator

    Phone sessions are the most popular approach when it comes to moderated remote user experience design testing. A moderator verbally instructs users to complete certain tasks on their devices, then collects feedback on the product’s UX. During phone sessions, special software is used to record their electronic behavior. This approach allows for broad geographic coverage while serving as an economical way to collect large amounts of data in a short period of time. 

    Catching the Elusive: How Can I Find UX Problems? - photo 1

    Remote UX testing without a moderator

    This type of user experience research provides insight into how users interact with a product in a “natural environment”. Session recording programs help observers capture each click, scroll, or movement with a pointer. It is one of the most effective ways to identify website UX issues by allowing you to see how people engage with your product, what motivates them to click on CTAs, what prevents them from certain steps, what they stumble upon, and at what point they leave. It is like Google statistics in real-time. 

    In-person UX testing without a moderator

    During unmoderated in-person user experience testing sessions, participants complete tasks on devices in a controlled environment without moderators administering the process. This type of usability research falls into two categories: observation and eye-tracking. 

    In observation testing, moderators do not interfere in the process. They simply watch how participants interact with a product, paying attention to their body language and facial expressions. However, they might intervene if someone needs guidance.

    During the eye-tracking testing, a device is mounted on the computer screen that records participants’ eye movement as they complete tasks. This variety of UX research is particularly helpful for testing page layout, allowing observers to see which page elements distract users from completing the task. 

    These methods are most common for testing UX design. To capitalize on each process (except for unmoderated remote tests), we recommend considering the following aspects:

    1. Participants shouldn’t be random people, but your user personas — fictional characters that represent your audience types.
    2. Tasks should be specific while reflecting the main use cases of your personas. For example, if you are testing a shopping app, avoid generic commands such as, “Open the app, and buy something.” Instead, make your instruction more detailed and realistic – “You have a birthday soon! To celebrate, open the app and order two bottles of La Marca Prosecco.

    UX interviews

    UX interviews aim to reveal users’ subjective perceptions and feelings about the product by asking them questions. However, this method of testing user experience has certain drawbacks: 

    • Human memory is flawed. We don’t recall events accurately. 
    • Users can leave out critical details, which they consider unimportant. 
    • People vary. Not everyone can share their opinion openly.

    Luckily, it helps to combine usability interviews with UX testing — every UX product designer can prove this point. That said, we recommend asking questions before, during, and after the testing session. 

    Let’s say you are testing a shopping app. The following questions can be helpful.

    Catching the Elusive: How Can I Find UX Problems? - photo 2

    Before testing:

    • Do you shop online? If so, how often?
    • Is it easy for you to complete the e-shopping steps?
    • Which device do you use for e-shopping? 
    • Have you used this app/website before? If not, did you use a similar product? 
    • Why did you choose this app/website for online shopping? 

    During testing: 

    • I noticed that you ___. Could you explain why you chose this?
    • Did you notice there is another way to perform this action? Which option do you find the worst/the best one?
    • What do you think about this text/menu/icon/button/etc.?
    • What do you think about the layout, on-page prompts, product categories, browsing experience, check-out, etc.? 

    After testing: 

    • What did you think about the overall user experience?
    • What would you change? 
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      UX testing and user interviews have proven to be powerful tools for finding user experience issues. However, even the most fervent admirers of these methods admit that placing people within an artificial environment and telling them they are being observed, limits you from gaining insight into their true motivations. But how else can you acquire elusive real-world data? – by harnessing the power of web analytics and paying particular attention to the metrics listed below. 

      Conversion rate 

      The most important metric is the conversion rate — the percentage of forms completed, purchases made, brochures downloaded, or whatever the criteria and niche. A low conversion rate may be a warning sign of poor UX. For example, suppose you have an e-commerce site. In that case, you must pay particular attention to product page conversions (purchases are usually made on product pages since customers need to learn about products in detail). If the numbers are insufficient, your visitors lack adequate product information and are thus not ready to spend hard-earned cash.  

      Bounce rate

      The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who left the page right from the start without completing the desired action. You can see the bounce rate both across the entire website and on a per-page basis. The latter metric is particularly useful for determining the weak points of your site. Meanwhile, the overall bounce rate could be indicative of poor user experience throughout the entire website. If visitors don’t understand the site’s purpose and what value it brings, they will leave. 

      Catching the Elusive: How Can I Find UX Problems? - photo 3

      Checkout abandonment 

      When it comes to the bounce rate on a per-page level, it’s recommended to be especially strategic about your checkout page (if it’s an e-commerce site). A high checkout abandonment rate might suggest there is something missing from your checkout page regarding UX. It may be the progress bar, security guarantees, the essential FAQs, related product recommendations, edit and delete options, full price including taxes, or something similar. 

      Page views per session & session length

      Page views per session and time per session are probably the hardest metric to interpret in terms of UX design. A quick session might mean users have achieved their goal quickly or didn’t find anything valuable. At the same, long sessions might indicate that users are either enjoying their online experience or getting lost along the way. With this in mind, it’s advisable to analyze this metric in combination with other rates.  

      Failed internal search 

      A failed internal search shows where a user was unable to find the needed information. This is perhaps one of the most insightful metrics as it reveals what is missing and what needs improvement. As a customer touchpoint, the internal search has a significant impact on those in the mood to buy.

      So, Which Method Should You Choose? 

      While statistics speak volumes and reveal a user in their ‘natural environment’, you may have to guess the actual meaning of your numbers. At the same time, usability testing allows you to see what is going on ‘behind the scenes’ but requires you to account for people’s behavior and how it varies when they are observed. Finally, user interviews give you insight into their actions and why they chose them, although they may not be 100% sincere and can neglect significant details. 

      What does this mean? Using one of these methods alone won’t suffice. Only the right combination of usability testing, user interviews, and analytics can reveal all the elusive usability bugs and help you create the best UX/UI design possible. However, combining the three isn’t always an option. Reasons might vary from budgetary constraints to the fact that the product hasn’t been released yet, or there are no statistics available. When choosing, it’s always best to look at your particular case before making a decision. 


      Despite being neglected, UX design is critical for your online business survival and considered a synonym of comfort. If your product is beautiful but not ‘convenient’, your customers will choose a competitor who cares more about user experience than you. At the same time, finding UX deficiencies isn’t always easy, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, for most, combining usability testing, UX interviews, and analytics is the best way to go. If it doesn’t seem possible for your specific situation, simply look at your needs and see what is best.

      Book a strategy session

      Get actionable insights for your product


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