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Heuristic evaluation

A heuristic evaluation is a usability testing method that helps to identify usability problems in a user interface (UI) design. It specifically involves evaluators examining the interface and judging its compliance with recognized usability principles (the "heuristics"). The main goal of heuristic evaluations is to identify any problems associated with the design of user interfaces. Jakob Nielsen developed this method on the basis of several years of experience with teaching and consulting about usability engineering.

Heuristic evaluations are one of the most informal method of usability inspection in the field of Human-computer interaction. A small group of evaluators examine a user interface and determine whether the interface conforms to established usability principles, called heuristics. There are many sets of usability design heuristics, they are not mutually exclusive and cover many of the same aspects of interface design.

Quite often, usability problems that are discovered are categorized according to their estimated impact on user performance or acceptance. Often the heuristic evaluation is conducted in the context of use cases (typical user tasks), to provide feedback to the site’s developers on the extent to which the interface is likely to be compatible with the intended users’ needs and preferences .

Most heuristic evaluations can be accomplished in a matter of days. The time required varies with the size of the artefact, its complexity, the purpose of the review, the nature of the usability issues that arise in the review, and the competence of the reviewers. A criticism that is often levelled at heuristic methods of evaluation is that results are highly influenced by the knowledge of the expert reviewer(s).