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"Heuristic evaluation is an essential element of systems' development".

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Introduction

BT302 - Assignment 2 "Heuristic evaluation is an essential element of systems' development" Jakob Nielsen (1990) describes heuristic evaluations as "a systematic inspection of a user interface design for usability", with its goal being "to find the usability problems in the design so that they can be attended to as part of an iterative design process". Heuristic evaluation is based around the theory of the usability of a system (computer program or website etc.), developed by Jakob Nielsen and Ralf Molich as "a method for structuring the critique of a system using a set of relatively simple and general heuristics" (Abowd, 1994). It is traditionally thought of as a function that must be carried out by a group to enjoy more of the benefits of feedback from various evaluators. Around 5 evaluators can usually discover 75% of a systems usability faults according to Nielsen (2003). ...read more.

Middle

3. It is beneficial to carry out a heuristic evaluation on early prototypes before actual users are brought in to help with further testing. 4. Usability problems found are normally restricted to aspects of the interface that are reasonably easy to demonstrate: use of colours, lay-out and information structuring, consistency of the terminology, consistency of the interaction mechanisms. It is generally agreed that problems found by inspection methods and by performance measures overlap to some degree, although both approaches will find problems not found by the other. 5. The method can seem overly critical as designers may only get feedback on the problematic aspects of the interface as the method is normally not used for the identification of the 'good' aspects. These benefits clearly outline why heuristic evaluation is considered essential in ascertaining the usability of a system. ...read more.

Conclusion

With the systems in question being user interaction based, such as websites, usability is vital and heuristic evaluations provide an extremely effective method of detecting potential flaws in the design of a website. A further list of heuristics developed by Constantine (1994) can be found in appendix 2, these further heuristics give a broader outline and further aspects of system testing can be conducted by the evaluators. However, the 10 heuristics by Nielsen provide a level of evaluation which can be conducted by most people not just expert evaluators. The accessibility of this type of evaluation to people who may not be expert users makes heuristic evaluation an important part of all systems development from novice users to experienced users. The evaluation is taken from an analytical viewpoint but based around the needs of the user. Heuristic evaluation is an essential part of a successful systems' development as it lends a users perspective to programmers design. ...read more.

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