The purpose of the heuristic evaluation is to identify general usability concerns of the undergraduate designs. Besides listing the potential usability concerns, an important goal of the document is to illustrate critical design concerns with a story.
A heuristic evaluation is performed by evaluating the design against a list of usability principles. The usability principles are specific to the user interface domain of the design. You should first generate a list of heuristic usability principles for the evaluation. You can consult usability principles from the literature, but the selected usability principles should be specific to the user interface (UI) domain. A UI domain is a general category that the system belongs to. For example a word processor design would belong to the UI domain for text document generation and not the same as drawing software. You should also derive your usability principles by consulting the design’s nominal interaction diagram, HTA and other design documents. An article illustrating a heuristic evaluation is in the resources.
Potential Usability Problems, Critical Design Concerns, Usability Scenarios
Potential usability problems are UI usability problems that you discover as during the Heuristic Evaluation. Critical design concerns are potential usability problem that would prevent the user from performing essential tasks. Not all potential usability problems are critical design concerns.
For example, a list of potential usability problems for a UI to construct a path on a GPS could be:
- On the opening form the function of the right arrow in the upper left is not clear. This violates the visibility principle.
- On the confirmation screen the save and delete button are adjacent to each, what if the user hit the delete button by mistake? This violates the error prevention principle.
- There is not a cancel button on the form for saving. This violates user control principle.
Critical design concerns should come from the list of usability problems. You make clear that the potential usability problem is critical by writing a usability scenario, a story that illustrates that the problem is critical. For example assume that you think that problem 3 in the list above is critical you would write:
No cancel on the save form is critical because it may cause excess work, for example: After immediately entering the save form, Jane recalls that she wants to enter one more waypoint, but now she can only save and to do so she must enter a name for the path. After the path is saved she must select that path from the list of save paths and open it in the editor. This is a lot more work than compared to just canceling the save and added the waypoint.
Document Format and Outline
The document should identify and explain UI domain. The document should also include lists of the heuristic usability principles followed by usability concerns. Each usability principle should have at least a sentence description. The usability concerns should be explicit problems that you found in the UI. Along with listing and identifying the usability concerns/problems you should also identify the usability principle that the problem violates. The critical design concerns should illustrated with a short (a few sentences) story.
The document need not be long. (I expect 2 or 3 pages.) The document may contain tables and bullets, but all bullet lists and tables should be supported with full sentence explanations in the text. Your document is not an outline. Be advised that I will evaluate the correctness of the document, but also how well it communicates.
An example outline:
- Cover sheet identifying you and the undergraduate group
- Short description of the undergrad design
- Identification of the UI domain and short description
- List of heuristic usability principles for the design’s UI domain
- List of usability problems generated from the heuristic evaluation
- Identification of critical usability concerns
- Illustrate the critical usability concerns with a short story
I will assign you an undergraduate group via the course email list. After the assignment of your group, check the group’s website for all the documents that you will need. Email the undergraduate group informing them of any additional documents that you need or questions that you might have. I advise emailing the groups to at least introduce your self and to get the link to their design documents.
You are to post the document in your website in a format appropriate for all web browsers and give the undergraduate group a link to the document. Also your document or your website should have a link to the undergraduate project and their cognitive walkthrough.
Email Me and Your Team
Email me (pastel at mtu.edu) and Karla Kitalong (kitalong at mtu.edu) when your website is up-to-date, so that we may view your Heuristic Evaluations. The subject line of the email should be
hu4628 – Heuristic Evaluation
Your email should NOT attach the documents. Rather, we will read them on your website.
Also you should email your team that you posted the evaluation on your website.