Heuristic Evaluation: A Comprehensive Guide

Rebecca Adisa
3 min readJun 8, 2023
Image by storyset on Freepik

Heuristic evaluation is a usability inspection technique that involves a small group of evaluators examining an interface and judging its compliance with recognized usability principles, or heuristics. The goal of heuristic evaluation is to identify usability problems in a user interface design so that they can be addressed as part of an iterative design process

What are Heuristics?

Heuristics are general guidelines, principles, or rules of thumb that designers use to inform and evaluate their work. When evaluating a design against these heuristics, it is called heuristic evaluation. Heuristics are not hard rules that guarantee success, but they are a set of general guidelines that can help designers improve the usability of their designs

How to Conduct a Heuristic Evaluation

To conduct a heuristic evaluation, you need a small group of evaluators who are familiar with the heuristics and have experience in usability testing. The evaluators examine the interface and judge its compliance with the heuristics. They then report any usability problems they find, along with recommendations for how to fix them

The following are the ten commandments for helpful expert analysis, as outlined by Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich:

  1. The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within a reasonable amount of time.
  2. The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases, and concepts familiar to the user rather than system-oriented terms.
  3. Users should be able to control the system, not vice versa.
  4. The system should be consistent, with a uniform style and terminology throughout.
  5. Error prevention and simple error handling should be implemented.
  6. The system should provide shortcuts that are meaningful and make sense to the user.
  7. The system should be easy to learn, even for first-time users.
  8. The system should provide a clear and concise representation of the information, with appropriate feedback and help.
  9. The system should be customizable to the user’s needs and preferences.
  10. The system should provide a clear and easy-to-use navigation system.
Source: NN Group

Benefits of Heuristic Evaluation

The benefits of heuristic evaluation are mainly due to the finding of usability problems. By identifying usability problems early in the design process, designers can address them before they become more costly to fix later on. Heuristic evaluation can also help designers improve their understanding of usability principles and guidelines, which can inform their future work

Conclusion

Heuristic evaluation is a valuable tool for designers to identify usability problems in their designs. By using a set of heuristics to evaluate a design, designers can improve the usability of their products and provide a better user experience. While heuristic evaluation is not the only tool designers should rely on, it is an important part of the design process that can help prevent product failure post-release

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

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Rebecca Adisa

A product designer who is enthusiastic about designing user-friendly products through strategic research