November 30, 2022 ・8 min read
Heuristic evaluation refers to a small group of evaluators examining and measuring the usability of the interface of a product and using established usability principles, i.e., the heuristics. This article explains how a heuristic evaluation works and shares a downloadable heuristic evaluation checklist to kickstart your product design examination.
Heuristic evaluation is one of the most common methods of inspecting the usability of mobile apps, websites, or any digital products. In a heuristic evaluation, a group of evaluators reviews the user interfaces of the products based on a given set of heuristic guidelines and checklist and reveal any usability issues. The heuristic evaluation report will help the product design team enhance the user experience and make the product more pleasing to its target users.
Heuristic evaluation can be conducted during the early stages of design or as part of a UX audit at any step of a product life cycle. During the early design or prototype stage, product managers can use heuristic evaluation to ensure that the design workflow is carried out smoothly. And a heuristic evaluation can also be conducted on completed and serviceable products, allowing the team to review and enhance every bit of their work.
Heuristic evaluation should be distinct from usability testing. Usability testing is conducted by product users with limited knowledge or expertise in UX and product design. Heuristic evaluation should ideally be performed by independent professional evaluators. Here’re the main difference between the two methods:
Heuristic evaluation is widely adapted in the product design and development process. Its advantages include:
Before conducting a heuristic evaluation on your mobile or web products, you need to prepare the following:
Evaluators should have adequate knowledge about the product, but they are not supposed to be the end-users, so they can share fresh insight and feedback you might not have been aware of. Ideally, your product shall be tested by 3-5 independent evaluators separately; this ensures another can catch the issues one evaluator does not notice.
Well-defined heuristic guidelines ensure the UX team can complete the evaluation consistently and constructively using the same standard and methods. Since a heuristic evaluation aims to improve the user experience around completing tasks so users can achieve their goals, setting clearly defined user tasks are essential to obtain user feedback. This will help create an impactful heuristic evaluation report that improves product development.
To collect and record testing results, you need a heuristic evaluation checklist that includes all standards for giving heuristic scores. This helps the product team document the findings and offer any clarifications so that the team can bring all their results together. You can download a heuristic evaluation checklist template on this page.
Need help guiding you on how to start? To conduct your heuristic evaluation smoothly, researchers must go through different tasks defined in the checklist and evaluate the product using ten universal UX Heuristics. Here are the key components of our heuristic evaluation checklist for you to follow or create a new report based on the template.
Jakob Nielsen, a usability consultant from the Nielsen Norman Group, initially established this list of guidelines, and it became one of the most famous heuristics sets.
Every digital product is unique, and the design and development procedure may differ. When conducting a heuristic evaluation, remember that some heuristics in the checklist may need optimizations to become more applicable or relevant to your product. Product managers should be agile in creating the best-tailored standard for reviewing their products. And whenever it is appropriate, you can apply mixed research methods to improve the workflow and outcome of the product.
Besides, the effectiveness of heuristic evaluation largely depends on the evaluators’ expertise in the product and the industry. Hiring professional evaluators outside the organization can be the most straightforward and fastest way to ensure a high-quality outcome.
Reach out to UXlicious if you have questions about product design or need a professional team to design and develop your digital products.
What is heuristic evaluation?
Heuristic evaluation is a popular UX design and research method for examining mobile apps, websites, or digital products' usability. In a heuristic evaluation, a group of evaluators reviews the user interfaces of the products based on a given set of heuristic guidelines and checklists to reveal any potential usability issues.
What are the differences between heuristic evaluation and usability testing?
Usability testing is conducted by product users with limited knowledge or expertise in UX and product design. In contrast, heuristic evaluation should ideally be done by independent professional evaluators. In usability testing, testers try out the system screen-by-screen to assess real issues of the product, while in a heuristic evaluation, evaluators examine the product holistically, which aims to determine its potential problems.
Have questions on how to conduct a heuristic evaluation?
UXlicious provides a downloadable heuristic evaluation checklist to kickstart your product design examination. We are a professional design and development team that applies mixed research methods and technologies to offer clients comprehensive app and web design and development services.