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Heuristic Inspection

A Heuristic Evaluation is an in-house examination of your site or app's adherence to basic usability standards. The impetus behind Heuristic Evaluations is to catch the most major usability mistakes and prevent their consequent negative impact on revenue, conversion, retention, bounce rates, and support calls. These mistakes and their effects are well-known and can often be addressed with minimal effort and quantifiable payback.

Heuristic Evaluations are best done on existing products or on nearly-completed designs, but if a UX team understands that a Heuristic Evaluation will be performed on their work, they will be motivated to design with the usability heuristics in mind.

Description

Schedule Time & Gather Materials

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Schedule Time:

  • Time Needed: 1 – 4 Days
Gather Materials

Gather Materials:

  • A late-phase testable version of your product
  • Some means for the evaluator to note their experience (Notebook, text editing application, etc.)

Carry Out This Method

Flow chart diagram drawn on a napkin

Step One

Determine who should evaluate the usability of the product. As few as four experienced user experience designers can uncover two-thirds of a product’s usability problems.

Step Two

Create an evaluation plan which includes a specific task or tasks for evaluators to complete (for example, making a purchase). If the evaluators need contextual information, that should be provided.

Step Three

Have evaluators perform the tasks assigned and record their experience as it relates to each of the 10 usability heuristics defined by Jakob Nielsen. They are:

  1. Visibility of system status
  2. Match between system and the real world
  3. User control and freedom
  4. Consistency and standards
  5. Error prevention
  6. Recognition rather than recall
  7. Flexibility and efficiency of use
  8. Aesthetic and minimalist design
  9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
  10. Help and documentation

Step Four

Collect the inspection results and present the most egregious issues to the design team with heuristic-based feedback regarding how they can be addressed.
 

Try These Tips

  • Heuristic Inspection should not replace usability testing, but rather used in conjunction with it or as a preliminary user experience check before it. Users are still your best source of product usability.

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