Heuristic evaluation is a method for finding the usability problems in a user interface design. This discount usability method is a quick, cost-effective method of identifying usability issues against a set of guidelines and/or principles with no end-user required. The attributes are often used in the early stages of assessment as part of an iterative design process and used a as a general rule of thumb to ensure accessibility and consistency, in particularly, for softwares and websites.
The analytical technique aims to catch some design flaws as apart of a wider qualitative research, primarily before conducting an usability testing. I find the best approach is to systematically move through a task base scenario to accomplish a goal and evaluate each dialogue element.
I find the best approach is to systematically move through a task base scenario to accomplish a goal and evaluate each dialogue element.
In the basic case study below, I use Jacob Nielsen’s 10 heuristics to evaluate the Zara homepage. Each heuristics is given a severity rating which would then be calculated as part of an team of 3-5 inspectors when aggregating findings to prioritise the issues. For this, I used UX Check to easily annotate and group my findings into a exported document.
- Visibility of system status: The basket located at the top-right corner reflects my activity with the number of items I’m ready to purchase.
- Match between system and the real world: Metaphors used matches my mental model of the languages used at a Zara store
- User control and freedom: Search is easy to open, enter info, execute or cancel. The site clearly marks where I am and where to go by showing the options in the navigation menu.
- Consistency and standards: Consistent language and graphics follows platform conventions with the logo at the top and the navigation down the left.
- Error prevention: Auto completion in the search field shows what results to expect which helps reduce input error.
- Recognition rather than recall: Visual cues such as indicators, icons, colours, consistency and layout help familiarise the user with interacting with the site.
- Flexibility and efficiency of use: The site is designed for novice users in mind. Context menu is also used when browsing the deeper pages.
- Aesthetic and minimalist design: Presents exactly the information the user needs within a clear interface.
- Help users recognise, diagnose and recover from error: The sign-up form is refined to give pointers on input errors.
- Help and documentation: A “contact” link to human support is provided.
While heuristics tells us where there are usability issues, it doesn’t tell us why
While heuristics tells us where there are usability issues, it doesn’t tell us why. So standards should be used as a stepping stone to other qualitative empirical research techniques such as interviews, observation and think-aloud studies that give us a sense of empathy towards the user’s highlighted difficulties.