Heuristic Evaluation and How to Conduct It

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Branding is a hot topic in design industry. When it comes to branding, design doesn’t always work in a linear way. We as designers might have to step in at various stages of platform design. They include:

  • Designing the whole platform

Designing from the beginning to the high-fidelity screens, to the final branding. We will be required to establish a brand, style guide, pattern libraries, and design systems.

  • Re-designing an existing platform

This also includes re-designing existing pattern libraries and design system. We will be required to take an initial design and reconfigure it to work within the stakeholder’s vision as well as considering the users’ need.

  • Continue an existing design

We’ll be asked to use what has already been created, and design extra components that increases brand outreach: Wearables, iOT devices, companion apps, etc. When a company goes through a time of growth, a merger or an acquisition, this is when this process takes in.

No matter where the design journey begins, whether to create, redesign or contribute to a design, our primary goal is always be to provide a quality user experience. To evaluate the current state of a product we can use a few different methods, such as:

  • Heuristic evaluation

Comparing an interface against predefined usability principles to assess whether or not a product or platform aligns with user goals and expectations.

  • User and Usability Testing

Testing a product or platform with the actual end-user to evaluate the content, navigation, interaction, and overall usability. This can be achieved via in-person or remote interviews, observations and other similar methods.

  • Cognitive Walkthrough

Assessing a user’s understanding of a product or platform by which they accomplish specific goals.

Heuristic evaluation is the most frequently used and relied-upon. Performing a heuristic evaluation involves assessing the usability of the interface and highlighting any product inconsistencies to address later on. The heuristics for evaluating design might focus on a combination of usability, desirability and operational considerations (source).

How to conduct the heuristic evaluation?

Define the goals and focus on the evaluation — Finding the goal should be one of the very first steps in design. It maybe already been identified in the project brief or after the ideation process. Once the goal is defined, shift the focus on the goal.

Choose an ideal evaluation method

Establish the principles you want to assess against. Here are some resources:

  1. Jakob Nielsen’s Heuristic Evaluations
  2. 10 Cognitive Engineering Principles
  3. Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design

Create a testing documents

Record everything: goals and heuristics, what and how you’ll be testing, takeaways and findings. Come up with a specific agenda, details yet easy to read because you also have to consider the time you have to spend during the testing.

Prioritize the Problem (or later found issue)

As you record findings and results of the testing, create a scale or matrix to prioritize found issues that need to be addressed after testing based on their level of severity.

Summarize, isolate and question

Once the evaluation is completed, summarize the takeaways and isolate areas that can reasonably be tackled within the time and resources available. Leverage findings and new areas of focus as a jumping off point for creative ideation.

Resources

How to Conduct a Heuristic Evaluation (Links to an external site.) by Jakob Nielson

An Introduction to Heuristic Evaluation (Links to an external site.)by Fabio Muniz