# Heuristic Evaluation
During a heuristic evaluation the usability of an interactive system is evaluated by experts based on heuristics.
In heuristic evaluation, a usability expert examines a system for deviations from evaluation criteria, the so-called heuristics (e.g. "10 golden rules for GUI design").
An inspection by experts (besides the heuristic evaluation e.g. also the Cognitive Walkthrough gives feedback on how a product or a concept idea can be optimized. Expert reviews, in general, are particularly helpful because usability experts can also suggest solutions for difficult design problems based on their experience with many different applications. An inspection by experts is particularly useful if an existing product is to be improved or if concepts for a new product already exist that you do not yet want to test with end-users.
A prioritized and weighted list of vulnerabilities / usability problems of the investigated system.
Before the heuristic evaluation, the usability experts, the heuristics and the part of the interactive system to be examined must be selected. There are many possible criteria for a heuristic evaluation: General principles are heuristics such as the "10 golden rules for GUI design". Such general principles are at a high level of abstraction. They, therefore, serve as general guidelines that should not be violated. Principles and guidelines may, for example, derive from standards such as the ISO/IEC 9241 series of usability standards. Such guidelines are more concrete, for example, "colour should not be used as the only means of representing information". Such guidelines are more concrete but typically platform-independent. Established conventions are, for example, platform standards such as those of Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS, and iOS or Android. An example of such a platform convention is "A dialog always has an 'OK' and a 'Cancel' button. These are located in the lower right corner". Usability experts have internalized the general criteria and will not prove why a usability problem is suspected for each finding if this is not explicitly desired.
Each usability expert performs the evaluation independently and individually based on the selected heuristics.
The usability experts can evaluate the heuristic evaluation in a joint workshop, listing all found weak points, classifying them according to their severity and then prioritizing them.
# Utilities and templates
- 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design von Jakob Nielsen (1994)
- The Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design von Ben Shneiderman (1998) Enthalten in: Shneiderman, B., Plaisant, C., Cohen, M., Jacobs, S., and Elmqvist, N., Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction: Sixth Edition, Pearson (May 2016) book website
- Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. (2006)
A rather low effort compared to evaluations with representatives of the user group. This method has the potential to uncover problems that users may not even notice because they have already developed a workaround.
The quality of the results strongly relies on the expertise of the usability expert. Also, it can be difficult to apply the often abstract heuristics to a concrete interactive system. Furthermore, it may be difficult to assign found usability problems to the used heuristics. The method uncovers problems, but often no suggestions for improvement.
- Nielsen J., Molich R. (1990) Heuristic evaluation of user interfaces In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '90), Jane Carrasco Chew and John Whiteside (Eds.). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 249-256. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/97243.97281
- Entry for Heuristic Evaluation at the Usability Body of Knowledge
- Methodenhandbuch des Kompetenzzentrum Usability Mittelstand