I214 UX Research

January 17, 2012

Expert Evaluation: Heuristics, Guidelines, Walk-Throughs, Competitor Analysis

Filed under: — Nancy Van House @ 9:48 pm

Competitor Analysis

Easy to explain, harder to do, and usually a critical first step.  There are lots of discussions and examples online — what’s key is (1) who you define your competitors to be and (2) the criteria that you use.

From Boxes and Arrows

Digital Web Magazine

Kuniavsky ch. 13


Everyone knows about heuristics, few use these anymore. But you need to know them.

Heuristic Evaluation from the Usability Body of Knowledge

What You Really Get From a Heuristic EvaluationDana Chisnell, UX Magazine, 2010

Jakob Nielsen’s 10 heuristics, http://www.useit.com/papers/heuristic/heuristic_list.html. These are the classics everyone immediately thinks of when you talk about heuristics.

Mozilla heuristics:  Quantifying Usability, Alex Faaborg in UX Magazine:

These are the UX principles currently being used by developers working onFirefox and other projects in the Mozilla community. We are currently utilizing Bugzilla’s keyword functionality, similar to how current bugs can be flagged as violating implementation level heuristics, like data loss. These principles can be added to any bug tracking that allows bugs to be tagged.


Guidelines are used like checklists as, well, guidelines for design. They can also be used for evaluation by assessing a product against relevant guidelines.  The best approach is to find or develop guidelines specific to a product domain or application; the more specific the better. Some organizations have their own guidelines to ensure consistency across their products and services.

Guidelines can be developed by looking at good examples — for example, e-commerce guidelines could be developed by examining sites like Amazon.  “Good” may simply mean what many people are used to, such as Amazon or Facebook.

Sample Guidelines

Apple’s iPad User Experience Guidelines

UX Magazine’s summary of iPad User Experience Guidelines

iOS Human Interface Guidelines

Blackberry Smartphones UI Guidelines

Susan Weinschenk, The Psychologist’s View of UX Design, UX Magazine May 19th 2010. Not intended as guidelines, but they work.

Usability.gov research-baseed guidelines for web design.

Good: these are based on large-scale research projects.   A PDF manual of the guidelines can be downloaded from this site.  Each guideline is evaluated for how well it is supported by research data; can be highly valuable for convincing clients of their legitimacy.

Not so good: the manual violates what I consider the most basic guideline for such material: no date!  Most recent material referenced: 2006.

Web Accessibility Initiative

Guidelines for various kinds of content, tools, and applications


Pluralistic Usability Walkthroughs

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