How to Conduct a Heuristic Review and Evaluation: Everything to Know

How to Conduct a Heuristic Review and Evaluation: Everything to Know

Your website could be the most sophisticated, high-tech and interactive around. But, is it user-friendly?

If you don't know the answer to this question, all of your development efforts could be for naught. Designing a great-looking site is one thing, but unless it's accessible to everyone who visits, it won't achieve its intended result. 

That's where a thorough heuristic test can make a world of difference.

Today, we're taking a look at the steps included in this review, along with how to evaluate the results. 

Ready to learn more? Let's get started.

What is a Heuristic Evaluation?

A UX heuristic evaluation is an in-depth examination of your user interface. In it, a small group of testers will test and analyze your interface. As they do so, they'll weigh it against a set of 10 usability standards, known as heuristics. 

Though there are different kinds of usability heuristics employed in software design, the most used ones are those created by consultants Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich in 1990. These heuristics include:

  • System Status Visibility
  • System/Real World Match
  • User Control and Freedom
  • Consistency and Standards
  • Recognition, not Recall
  • Error Prevention
  • Minimalist, Aesthetic Design
  • Flexible, Efficient Use
  • Plain-Language Error Messages
  • Accessible Help and Documentation

Once you receive their feedback, you can remediate any issues in your iterative design process.

Steps to a Successful Evaluation

Planning to perform this kind of evaluation on your own site? Here are a few steps to follow.

1. Plan Your Testing Approach

There are three main ways you can approach your heuristic evaluation. 

First, you can develop a list of critical tasks that all web users should be able to do on your site. Then, you can ask your evaluators to carry them out.

Or, you can communicate the goals of your site to your evaluators, such as "I want users to know the key features of this product." Then, they can break those goals into corresponding tasks and test each one for usability. 

The third approach is to focus primarily on the parts of your interface that will catalyze a dialogue with your site visitors. Then, you can see if those touchpoints are as intuitive and user-friendly as they should be. 

2. Assemble Your Evaluation Team

With your testing strategy in place, the next step is to assign your team of evaluators. 

To keep the results concise, stick with five or fewer people, preferably ones who have some level of experience in software ergonomics

3. Communicate the Heuristics 

Once you've chosen your team, you'll need to communicate and explain the above 10 heuristics to them. Let them know what to look for and what your goals entail.

4. Conduct the Evaluation Approach

You can choose to have each evaluator conduct testing individually, recording issues encountered along the way. Or, the group can evaluate the interface while you record the issues.

If you choose an individual review, this can normally be completed over the internet. Though it can result in a more detail-oriented review, it can take longer to complete. 

Want to fast-track your evaluation and get your results quickly? Our online tool makes it easy. You can also find a link to example heuristic evaluation page below.

You can design your heuristic test and launch it in a matter of minutes. Our portal includes an administrative side for project creation and data collection, along with a participant side, where evaluators can access your test and perform assigned tasks.

5. Analyze the Findings

Once the evaluation is over, you can combine all of the feedback received. Remove any duplicate reports and aggregate similar concerns together.

The result? A complete, comprehensive list of usability issues that you can fix to make your site as accessible and successful as possible.

Usability Testing Tools You Need

An expert evaluation is a key part of any successful website launch. Yet, traditional methods can be clunky and cumbersome.

That's where we come in.

We deliver virtual testing tools that take the guesswork out of the process and help you find the answers you need.

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usabiliTEST Heuristic Evaluation Tool is based on 247 web usability guidelines by Dr. Travis of USERFOCUS and is used with permission of the author.