Watch this space every Friday for a weekly heuristic evaluation of an interface. Heuristics are rules of thumb that experts use to conduct low cost usability evaluations. While their utility is somewhat controversial, they are nevertheless widely practiced in the field. They're also perfect for a blog entry.
The heuristics I'll use come from Jakob Nielsen's list for user interface design, although I may alter these over time. Check the link for the full article and context, but in brief they are:
- Aesthetic and minimalist design
- Consistency and standards
- Error prevention
- Flexibility and efficiency of use
- Help and documentation
- Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
- Match between system and the real world
- Recognition rather than recall
- User control and freedom
- Visibility of system status
Note that a one-man heuristic evaluation will not catch all (or even most) of an interface's usability problems. Heuristic evaluations are quick and cheap, but also sometimes quick and dirty. They're much better, however, than no usability at all.
If you have any suggestions for interfaces I can use and evaluate, please comment below or email me.