What is heuristic analysis and what are its principles

When bringing a digital product to market, it is necessary to carry out some tests in order to identify possible errors, solve them and offer the user the best experience. To recognize any errors that may exist, it is common to do a heuristic analysis.

If you want to know more, in this article we are going to see what it consists of more broadly and what are the main principles on which it is based.

What is heuristic analysis in UX

A heuristic analysis is a method that is used to evaluate the usability of interfaces and find possible errors. It is normally carried out by several experts in the field, who are based on some usability principles recognized, called heuristic principles.

With this heuristic evaluation, conclusions and improvement proposals are obtained that should be implemented to improve the user experience in relation to the design of an interface.

Nielsen heuristic principles

Although there are different principles to carry out this test, the best known are those developed by Jakob Nielsen, in collaboration with Rolf Molich, in 1990. Which, despite being of some age, are still useful as a starting point for carrying out this type of analysis. They are the following:

1. System status visibility. The system must keep the user informed about what is happening in a reasonable time. For example, titles, list of links and which ones have been consulted, how many steps are left to finish a task in a shopping cart…

2. Connection between the system and the real world. You should use words, phrases, expressions and concepts that are familiar to the user. For clients or users, browsing should be an intuitive experience.

3. Freedom and control on the part of the user. Alternatives must be offered for when a user makes an error. For example, add undo, edit, delete or cancel options. This gives confidence to the user and the process is more agile because they do not have to start all over again.

4. Consistency and standards. The system as a whole must be consistent and the elements and their operation must not be modified on each screen.

5. Error prevention. The system should not encourage a user to make a mistake, quite the opposite. For example, if a service is not available in a certain location, the system should not allow that option to be marked from the beginning to avoid mistakes at the end.

6. Recognition instead of memory. The information that users must remember must be reduced; to do this, it is best to make the necessary elements and actions visible through the interface screens. Keep in mind that memory is limited, so interfaces that require less memorization are simpler and more intuitive.

7. Flexibility and efficiency of use. It should be noted that the interface can be used by expert or beginner users.

8. Minimalist and practical aesthetics and design. It is advisable to create a simple design that has the fundamental elements, so that there is no irrelevant information that can reduce visibility and capture the user's full attention.

9. Help, diagnosis and error recovery. If at any time an error occurs, it should be expressed in a simple message, not in overly technical terms. This way, users can recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors with suggested solutions.

10. Help and documentation. Although the interface has the necessary usability, there may be users who require more information. For this reason, help should be offered by incorporating search boxes, frequently asked questions sections…

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