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Heuristic evaluation is a discount usability engineering method for quick, cheap and easy evaluation of a user interface design

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Introduction

Heuristic Evaluation Essay

“Heuristic evaluation is a discount usability engineering method for quick, cheap and easy evaluation of a user interface design” (Neilson 1994). Should heuristic evaluation be used or should developers consider using some other technique?

What is a heuristic evaluation? Well according to Jakob Neilson, the man that fabricated the system, a “Heuristic evaluation is a discount usability engineering method for quick, cheap, and easy evaluation of a user interface design” (Neilson 1994). Neilson developed this method on the basis of several years of experience with teaching and consulting about usability engineering. This system works by examining the interface and judging its compliance with recognised usability principles using a specific set of evaluators. The main purpose of this system is to identify and acquaint any problems associated with the design of user interfaces.  

As previously stated, an heuristic evaluation is a discount usability engineering method for quick, cheap and easy evaluating, the question “Should heuristic evaluation be used or should developers consider using some other technique” arises?

When questioning the heuristic method, it is only natural for one to wonder how this method ranks with other similar usability evaluation techniques, considering both the examination and experimental aspects.

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Middle

The distinctions that have occurred within the last two studies can be speculated to a certain extent. The fact that user testing was more cost-effective in one study and the opposite in the other case may be due to the differences in walkthrough procedures and the type of data analysis. The differences in evaluator expertise or the length of time to perform the heuristic evaluations could have caused the variation in which method found the most usability problems in the user interface.  The higher degree of overlap in the experiment conducted by Karat may be due to the essential differences in the two scenarios used in the two studies.

As can be seen, many factors can affect the comparative achievement of any individual method or technique. Therefore, this makes it very difficult to compare different evaluation methods; hence I think the best approach is to remember that each method has its strengths and weaknesses depending on its application.

Heuristic Evaluation; as a discount usability engineering method, I do not think that heuristic evaluations guarantee to find every last usability problem in a design of a interface. For example, if there’s a system that is highly domain-dependent and the evaluators has little domain expertise, usability problems are likely to be overlooked.

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Conclusion

[1]  Desurvive, H.  Chapter 7:  Faster; Cheaper!! Are Usability Inspection Methods as Effective as Empirical Testing? In Usability Inspection Methods, Nielsen, J. and Mack, R.L., Eds. John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1994, pp. 173-202.

[2]  Dix, A., Finlay, J., Abowd, G., and Beale, R.  Chapter 11: Evaluation Techniques.  Human Computer Interaction.  Prentice Hall, 1993.  pp.363-400.

[3]  Jefferies, R., Miller, J., Wharton, C., and Uyeda, K. User interface evaluation in the real world: A comparison of four techniques. In Proceedings of CHI '91, (New Orleans, LA, April 28 – May 3, 1991), ACM, New York, pp. 119-124.

[4]  Karat, C., Campbell, R., and Fiegel, T. Comparison of empirical testing and walkthrough methods in user interface evaluation. In Proceedings of CHI '92, (Monterey, CA, May 3-7), ACM, New York.

[5]  Karat, H.  Chapter 8:  A Comparison of User Interface Evaluation Methods.  In Usability Inspection Methods, Nielsen, J. and Mack, R.L., Eds. John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1994, pp. 203-233.

[6] Nielsen, J., and Molich, R. Heuristic evaluation of user interfaces. In Proceedings of CHI '90, (Seattle, WA, April 1-5), ACM, New York, pp. 249-256.

[7] Nielsen, J. Finding usability problems through heuristic evaluation. In Proceedings of CHI '92, (Monterey, CA, May 3-7), ACM, New York, pp. 372-380.

[8] Nielsen, J. Chapter 2:  Heuristic Evaluation. In Usability Inspection Methods, Nielsen, J. and Mack, R.L., Eds. John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1994, pp. 25-62.

I extracted quotes and text from the Jakob Nielsen's site and the used material provided by my tutor.

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