Heuristic evaluation exercise

First, make sure you've watched Klemmer's short lecture on heuristic evaluation (listed in the course syllabus for today's class). For our exercise, your group will conduct a heuristic evaluation of a system of your choice. Some possible options you may consider--but feel free to pick your own--are as follows:

Before you can carry out the evaluation, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the system you are evaluating. If you already feel comfortable with its operation, great, but if not, spend a bit of time working with the interface to get a feel for the flow of interaction. Once you've done so, review Nielsen's Ten Usability Heuristics and Shneiderman's Eight Golden Rules, thinking about these guidelines and how they should apply, if relevant to the system you're evaluating.

Ideally, you'd be provided with a typical usage scenario to follow, but for this exercise, you'll have to use your best judgment to imagine what this would entail for the system you're evaluating.

Next, go through the operation of the interface again, exploring the options carefully, and thinking through, "if I were a typical user trying to accomplish typical tasks with this system, what would I be likely to do?" and "what mistakes might I make?" Focus on specific interface elements rather than on the system as a whole. Remember, your objective is it evaluate the interface with respect to usability heuristics, not to carry out a usability test of the system.

As you go through the various operations, think about which heuristic criteria are not fully respected, and take brief notes to serve as memory aids. If you have the time, walk through the operation of the interface once more, experimenting with different options, and again, thinking about the heuristic criteria.

When you're done, as individual evaluators, write up a summary of the main problems you perceive from the perspective of the usability heuristics. Try to assign severity ratings and suggest design changes that would feasibly remedy the problems you've identified. This is a challenging task.

For the last 15 minutes of the class, you'll get together with your groups to discuss the results you obtained, and try to reach consensus on the problems with the design (the "design critique"), their severity rankings, and your suggested remedies. As before, post your group writeup on Moodle to share with us.