Design is an investment, not an expense. It’s not enough to design a nice-looking product, it also has to be usable and if you are to extract the largest ROI from a product, its usability which generally refers to “ease-of-use” takes on vital importance.
There are a few ways a product’s usability can be tested, an inspection method called a Heuristic Analysis is one of them. This usually means running a Heuristic Evaluation on a product, whether it already exists or is brand new.
A Heuristic Evaluation is used to identify a product’s common usability issues so that the problems can be resolved, consequently improving the user’s satisfaction and experience and raising the chances of a digital product’s overall success.
Focusing on usability, heuristic analysis is an evaluation method in which one or more experts compare a digital product’s design to a list of predefined design principles (commonly referred to as heuristics) and identify where the product is not following those principles.
A specific set of heuristics contains empirical rules of thumb, best practices, standards, rules, and conventions that have been tested or observed over long periods of time. Sticking to these heuristic standards produce UX designs that simply work better.
A heuristic evaluation process involves identifying the user’s goals and coming up with a task list to achieve those goals. Evaluators then flag problems users may have as they use the product.
During the evaluation, individual evaluators assign a “severity rating” to each of the usability issues identified. As a rule, Designers work their way down from the most critical issues on the backlog to the least critical.
It’s useful to note that even though a single experienced UX pro is usually adept at identifying the most critical usability issues, a group of evaluators is generally the best option. They should be able to flag the maximum of usability problems.
The Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) is an American computer user interface and user experience consulting firm, founded in 1998 by Jakob Nielsen, Don Norman and Bruce Tognazzini. Their work includes an analysis of the interface of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. They have done analyses of the user experience of mobile devices (including the iPad) and intranets. It defines the usability theory and provided the rules and standard for Heuristic evaluation usability method.
- Visibility of system status:
The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.
- Match between system and the real world:
The system should speak the user’s language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.
- User control and freedom:
Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.
- Consistency and standards:
Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.
- Error prevention:
Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.
- Recognition rather than recall:
Minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.
- Flexibility and efficiency of use:
Accelerators—unseen by the novice user—may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.
- Aesthetic and minimalist design:
Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.
- Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors:
Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.
- Help and documentation:
Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user’s task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large.
Each evaluator would analyse the whole product multiple times to grade the key elements of the system like,
- Information Architecture
- Visual Design
- Interaction Design
We have done a detailed analysis of the heuristic evaluation process for one of the leading Australian Real Estate Search portal. The evaluation itself was performed using the heuristic evaluation usability method, provided by Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g).
Prioritisation of Usability Issues
In order to usefully group the findings resulting from this heuristic evaluation process, we clustered specific instances of heuristic violations into eleven problem areas. To further understand the impact of each of these problems, we estimated both its severity in terms of usability principles. Problem severity ratings were impacted by the frequency with which the problem occurred, the ease with which the user could overcome the problem, and the persistence of the problem whether it could be solved once or would bother the user every time a task was attempted. This resulted in a dual rating for each problem found, which was used to prioritise the problem areas for presentation in this report. The tables below define the severity of fix rating systems applied.
Top Header and Navigation
There are multiple navigations including “Buy”, “Rent”, “Sell”, “Project” and More, with logo, Social media icons/links and secondary navigation.
Search Action on Home Page
On the homepage there is a search action for buy or rent the property, There is information about the project and there is some promotion banner.
Project Section on Home Page
On the homepage there some available project details for rent and buy.
Search Result page
Search Result page
It was a really good experience working on Heuristic Evaluation. Heuristic Evaluation makes me understand better about the product and design a better solution.