Heuristic analyses

When developing a new application or user interface, get quick usability feedback as early as possible in the development cycle. A cheap and efficient way to do this is through Heuristic evaluation.

Heuristic analysis was developed by Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich in 1990 and refined by Nielsen in 1994. In a web context, heuristics can be defined as a set of common sense usability rules of thumb that will increase the probability of your new application or user interface being user friendly. The earlier you do this in the development lifecycle, the cheaper it is to resolve common usability issues.

Whilst at AXA, I developed an internal employee contact directory. As this was a business critical application it was important to get the user interface right. The early results from the heuristic evaluation saved a lot of time and money when the final version was delivered.

The heuristics I checked against were:

Consistency
Recognition
Action status
System speed
Emergency exit
Little is more
Prevention better than cure
Helpful error messages

 

Consistency

Remember, the most important consistency is consistency with user expectations.

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Recognition rather than recall

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Action status

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System speed

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Emergency exit

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Little is more

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Prevention better than cure

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Helpful error messages

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