Heuristic Evaluation : How To Conduct

Heuristic Evaluation : How To Conduct

Heuristic evaluation and usability testing techniques focus on usability problems but both are different. If you want to use the Heuristic Evaluation, then you should take a look at the UI and identifies any further problems. On the other hand, with usability testing, potential users try out the UI with real tasks.

With usability testing, you will find true problems, in the sense that at least one user encountered each problem. On the other hand with the heuristic evaluation, the problems are potential. In this case, you suspect that something may be a problem for users.

How You Can Do

This technique can be made in many ways.

  • First, you can let the usability specialists look at the screens, or you can assistant developers to look at them.
  • Each evaluator may deliver his own list of errors. Also, you may ask all of them to reach an arrangement and come up with a common list of these errors.
  • You can use their sound findings and earlier experience. Also, you can use a list of heuristic guidelines. For instance, these guidelines can be the error messages that should tell the user what to do.

Common Heuristic Evaluation Rules

  • The system should always keep users abreast about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within a reasonable time.
  • The system should speak the users’ language, with words and phrases.
  • Also, the system should concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms.
  • The error messages should express in plain language (no codes), as well as indicate the problem.
  • At the same time, the error messages should kindly suggest a specific solution.

Rules And Guidelines Of Heuristic Evaluation

On this method, the rules can give several purposes:

  • Handle the designer during the process of design.
  • Help the evaluators to identify the problems in the UI.
  • Explain the noticed usability problems.

There are many recommended sets of usability heuristics techniques. Keep in your mind that not all of them may be appropriate for each project. Some common heuristics include:

The rules of Shneiderman’s method are still valid. Shneiderman thought that these rules can be applied as design guidelines, and on the other hand, can be used for every level of the developer while he designs the UI. These rules can be used by heuristic evaluators to identify any kind of usability problems.

Around 1990, Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich developed a list of heuristic rules. This method specifically aimed at heuristic evaluation. This method is rather than similar to Shneiderman’s.

The common rules of Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molish are :

  • Visibility of system status.
  • User-friendly language and conventions.
  • User control and freedom.
  • Consistency and standards.
  • Error preventions.
  • Memory recognition rather than recall.
  • Aesthetic and minimalist design.
  • Help users recognize errors.
  • Help and documentation.
  • Flexibility and efficiency of use.

The heuristic evaluation finds usability problems by a review.

How To Do Heuristic Evaluation

  • First, it is important to create a list with the task scenarios that you going to test.
  • Create a checklist for the Heuristic terms that you are going to use.
  • You should justify each of these problems. Then you list by appearing to the heuristic.
  • You should explain how the heuristic is violated.

You can use the method of severity rating.


[1] Cosmetic Problem.
[2] Minor Problem.
[3] Major Problem.
[4] Catastrophe.

Best Practices

When you take care of an analysis of this technique, you can’t say “That’s an ugly orange color”. Instead of this, you have to justify why this is a common usability problem, that’s likely to affect usability for other people.

From instance, if a button has several problems with it like bad color combination or bad incense of information, then you should listed identify each of those problems. Keep in your mind that some of these problems may be more serious than others. Also, some others may be easier to fix than others. Its best to bring all problems on the table to make these deal.

  • Justify every problem with a heuristic rule
    • Too many choices on the front page. (Aesthetic and minimalist design)
    • You can’t say just “I don’t like the colors”
  • List every specific problem.
    • Even if any of the interface elements have more than one problem.
  • Get through the interface at least twice times.
    • By doing this you will focus to feel out the system.
    • Focus again and again on particular interface elements.
  • Decide what method you will follow to implement the heuristic evaluation.

In Conclusion

In many cases, the heuristic evaluation finds a lot of problems, but keep in your mind that half of them are false in the sense that they do not cause any problems to real users. If you want to evaluate this technique, then you can review it with some expert users to finding out the missing functionality. Use it with caution. You should correct any problems that you feel that are real. In the other hand, let usability tests to decide for the test. At least, always make usability tests to point out the true problems.

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