Conducting an Heuristic Evaluation | by Olimpia U. | Jan, 2023

Heuristic evaluation is a process where experts use rules of thumb to measure the usability of user interfaces in independent walkthroughs and report issues. Evaluators use established heuristics (e.g., Nielsen-Molich’s) and reveal insights that can help design teams enhance product usability from early in development.

Interaction Design

To conduct an Heuristic Evaluation you need to understand what you have to look for the actual evaluation. Here are the 10 usability heuristics for UI Design by Jakob Nielson:

The user should always be informed by the status of the system, be it a vibration, lights or sound. This way the user is assured he/she is in control of their actions.

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Ever wondered by we have buttons, switches and inputs? Because before digital stuff there were these ones below, the physical ones. When a design’s controls follow real-world conventions and correspond to desired outcomes — we call it natural mapping.

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The design should speak the users’ language. Use words, phrases, and concepts familiar to the user, rather than internal jargon. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.

How many times did you use CTRL+Z today? I can’t tell, I use it so many times, even writing this article. Because humans are prone to making mistakes or even slips, we need ways of clearing it off and get back on our track.

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Did you know all STOP signs have the same format (red background with white text) everywhere? That’s consistency, so that foreign drivers wouldn’t ask themselves if the sign means something else.

Design should be consistent so that users wouldn’t question if different words, situations or actions means the same thing.

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Yes, error messages are a great way to recover from errors, but do you know what would be better? Never making that error. Like STOP signs we see around our town, the design in products should prevent the user making errors, like having formats for inputs.

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Don’t make the user think about what they know and don’t load their memory with disposable information — like options that should be in dropdown all the time. Humans have a limited short-term memory, so we have to be careful of the information we choose to show them.

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What if instead of these 9 buttons from the elevator below we would have just one button we would have to press one time to get to the first floor, two times for the second floor and so on? That would be amazing in a 50 floors building.

The need of shortcuts in our life is mandatory, because they make it easier, quicker for us to perform a task. These shortcuts can be digital, like the ones we use daily in our tools or even physical, like pressing Redial on old phones.

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Users what to find what they are looking for, not promotions, not scroll through 10 beautiful pictures or subscribe to unnecessary newsletters. This heuristic is important because a design should focus on the essentials and to ensure that the visual elements of the interface support the user’s primary goals.

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Not everyone is an engineer, so making errors recognizable is crucial for some people. Always check to see if users can see the errors, understand the error messages and can fix them to continue their tasks.

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If a product needs any clarification of how it needs to be used then it’s already flawed, however using a hard-to-use product is worst without having a documentation of helpers.

When needed, a well structured documentation can make a difference in the experience.

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1 — Choose your tool

I usually use Figma for everything, but you can also use Miro, or even sticky notes.

2 — Write down the heuristics that we covered in this articles

Create a table like figure where you can put the heuristics on the first column.

3 — Create a measurement strategy

For example, using a scale from 1 to 3, if the heuristic is violated, but it doesn’t impact the business too much you can measure it as 1 and if it’s something that can have a big impact then it’s a 3.

4 — Start evaluating the experience

Test the whole experience from the start to the end and note every rule that is violated — with the appropriate severity, along with comments and solutions.

5 — Present your findings

Create a resume of your evaluation to have a clear path of what needs to be prioritized and what can be easier to fix.

What do you think?

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