Usability Techniques
Heuristic Evaluation Activities

By Denise Pierotti, Xerox Corporation

Heuristic Evaluation

Heuristic Evaluation (expert review) is a diagnostic method in which experts take the role of less experienced users and describe the potential problems they see arising in a system or interface for those users. The review is based on compliance with a set of principles (heuristics). It is known as a "discount" method, and was designed for quick turnaround so that the deliverable can be attended to as part of an iterative design process.


"Heuristic Evaluation", in Usability Inspection Methods, edited by J. Nielsen and R. Mack, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1994, pages 25-62.

Getting Ready (Project Lead activities)

Evaluating the system (Evaluator activities)

Analyzing the results (group activity)

Reporting the results (Team Leader activity)

Debriefing (Team Leader activity)


Severity Rating Scales

You can decide to use either of these severity rating scale, or develop you own to suit the project needs.

Five-point rating scale

1 Cosmetic, will not affect the usability of the system, fix if possible.

2 Minor, users can easily work around the problem, fixing this should be given low priority.

3 Medium, users stumble over the problem, but quickly adapt to it, fixing this should be given medium priority

4 Major, users have difficulty, but are able to find workarounds, fixing this should be mandatory before the system is launched. If the problem cannot be fixed before launch, ensure that the documentation clearly shows the user a workaround

5 Catastrophic, users are unable to do their work, fixing this is mandatory

Three-point scale

This article is part of the Usability Toolkit.
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