Usability Heuristics

Vamsi Koduru Informatics 131 Professor Redmiles March 14, 2013 Human Computer Interactions: Usability Heuristics Introduction Throughout the years as user interfaces have become more complex and detailed there has been an ever increasing need to ensure that these interfaces are easy to use and understand - Usability Heuristics introduction. Whether it be the formatting tools of Microsoft Word or the menus on an Apple’s Mac OSx, usability heuristics have played a major role in determining the fate of certain features and their respective layouts on the software.

With computers becoming ever more accessible each year the need for heuristic evaluation has also risen exponentially. Every major software that has been released today has undergone some form of heuristic evaluation to ensure that it is indeed useable to some extent due to its cheap and efficient nature of feedback to the developers. That being said it also has some downsides due to that it requires a lot of training and knowledge to be able to properly apply the heuristics in the testing phase.

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The goal of this essay is to discuss several of the usability heuristics and their role in the development phase and how it ensures that a more user friendly interface or design will be made. Visibility of System Status The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time- Jakob Nielson. This heuristic is very self explanatory based on its definition, however it does play a major role in many interfaces that we encounter on a daily basis. How frustrating would it be if Eclipse didn’t give us proper feedback whenever we ran a test?

This is an essential heuristic to test and implement because it will help inform the user if they are correctly using the interface or software and if not what needs to be fixed. We can see this being implemented in various websites when we try to change our password with the green or red markers on the side of the box informing us if that is a valid password choice or not. It was discussed in class how our short term memory will remember up to seven actions at a time and properly implementing this heuristic will ensure that the users short term memory does not get overloaded when trying to use an interface.

Match between system and the Real World The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions making information appear in a natural and logical order- Jakob Nielson. As programmers or even employees of any store we are ware of various jargons and terms that refer to errors, items, or actions within a system or the store, however it is unreasonable to expect that a common user or customer of our store will understand any of those terms that we might decide to throw at them.

This is what makes this heuristic so important in the development of software, user interfaces, or even human computer interactions at a store. It would make no sense to develop an interface that threw meaningless exceptions at the user for they would not be able to do anything of use with that feedback. This heuristic has resulted in error me

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