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Making Nielsen’s heuristics more digestible

A new spin to an ancient usability heuristic.

Jakob Nielsen’s heuristics are probably the most-used usability heuristics for the design of interfaces.

If you go to their website, you might encounter these dry prescriptive statements as shown in the image.

Recently came across this blog by Michael Prestonise and loved the way he had repurposed the old wine in a new bottle.

It converted a boring user manual into an engaging flashcard format through great questions. Some of these questions for reference—

Does the interface provide visibility of the system status throughout the task to keep the user informed about what is happening?

Will the user need to learn any new terms in order to understand this interface and complete the task?

Does the interface provide an “emergency exit” if the user makes a mistake at key points in the task?

Does the interface use consistent language throughout the whole task?

What error conditions might the user accidentally find themselves in as they try to complete the task?

Will the user need to remember anything from earlier steps as they complete the task?

Does the interface provide any affordance(s) for experienced users to complete tasks more efficiently?

Does the interface display extra information that is not relevant to this step in the task?

Does the interface provide a clear explanation of the error and how it might be resolved?

If the user gets stuck or is unable to complete the task, can they find any documentation or help?

It can take time to learn new ways to think about your designs and build them into your design process. You will benefit from these heuristics even if you add them one at a time. Additionally, these heuristics aren’t just for designers. Product managers, engineers, operational team members, sales, marketing, etc. can all apply these heuristics to interfaces (whether they are in your product or somewhere else, like your marketing website). You can share these with your team and evaluate your user interfaces together — Michael Prestonise