Friday, March 19, 2010

Looking Beyond Heuristics

Despite of the fact that User Experience (UX) discipline requires specialist to do the job not all companies embrace it. These days I have seen lot of requests coming from non User Experience (UX) people (managers, marketing executives, software engineers, etc.) to guide them to perform Heuristic Evaluations. These folks work in companies that do not believe in spending on User Experience Design teams. Certainly, without training these people would not produce the best of the world results but with proper tools in hands they may deliver “just good enough” results.
Heuristic Evaluation provides an immediate tactical analysis of the user experience of Web site, Web application, GUI application, or Intranet. It provides a prioritized list of changes to correct confusing elements of the current design. The result is a redesign solution that leads to an enhanced user experience.
Here is couple of links which may be handy for your heuristic evaluation:
25-point Website Usability Checklist -
Research based Web Deisgn and Usability Guidelines -
Ten Usability Heuristics by Jakob Nielsen -
Heuristic Evaluation – A System Check List -

If you are an executive champion in your organization read further:
If you are not Leonardo da Vinci then better leave Monalisa for him. Let UXers do the UX.
User Experience Design is not mathematics where every time 2 and 2 makes 4. In UX things are based on context rather than content. It is about converting science and technology to arts in such a way that it brings joy and delight to people. This magic of converting left-brain logic to right-brain creativity comes with lot of experience, education, practice and time.
It is one thing to rate an application against a set of heuristics and it is another to add tremendous value by looking beyond heuristics. An expert User Experience professional not only looks at the heuristics but also at Users, Context, Competition, Brand and Client’s strategic vision. He provides a solution which not only improves your system but ROIs and brand image too.