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Smashing UX Design: Foundations for Designing Online User Experiences by Jesmond Allen, James Chudley

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Chapter 10: Conducting a Useful Expert Review

An expert review is a low-cost method for understanding an existing product’s key usability issues. An expert review is simply an evaluation of an existing product based on a set of usability guidelines, the target users, and their tasks.

We find that conducting an expert review is an excellent way of immersing ourselves in a product at the beginning of a redesign project. If we’re working on a project that’s designing something from the ground up (with no existing product to reference), competitor benchmarking (Chapter 6) is similarly useful.

Why are expert reviews important?

Expert reviews are important because they are the cheapest and easiest tool in your UX evaluation armory. They are not as thorough and rigorous as usability testing (Chapter 5), but they are quick and require no resources beyond your own time.

To conduct an expert review, you step through the existing product, imagining yourself to be a novice user. Before you start, list the main user groups and tasks that the product must allow the users to complete. Are you able to complete the tasks easily? Are you able to understand the progress you have made? Additionally, evaluate the product against a set of good practice guidelines in order to catch non-task-based usability issues.

The term expert review is perhaps a misnomer. You don’t need to be a UX expert to conduct one. Even a novice can produce useful findings—it is the act of stepping through the product with ...

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