Heuristic Analysis

What is Heuristic Analysis?

A heuristic analysis consists of a method by which the usability of an interface is evaluated and inspected. This is an analysis carried out by experts in the field to check the usability of a certain website.  

Therefore, in the analysis the heuristic techniques will be based on the principles of Human-Computer Interaction, and the experts will evaluate the criteria based on their knowledge of usability.

One of the most relevant heuristic methods is given by the famous 10 Usability Heuristic Principles for UX Design by the well-known analyst Jakob Nielsen. However, there are many others such as The 8 Golden Rules by Ben Shneiderman or The Item Checklist by Deniese Pierotti.




Example of heuristic analysis


Let’s see an example of a heuristic method on the criteria that an expert will analyze according to Nielsen:

  • 1. The design must inform users of the state of the system at all times.

  • 2. The information must be adapted to the user’s language and follow a logical and natural order.

  • 3. The system must provide an “emergency exit” so that the user maintains control in the event of possible mistakes.

  • 4. Patterns in the system must be standardized so that the same action always means the same thing.

  • 5. An ideal design is one that prevents errors before they occur.

  • 6. The elements and instructions must be visible to prevent the user from memorizing information.

  • 7. It must be flexible and efficient, offering an advanced experience for returning users.

  • 8. With a minimalist design you avoid secondary and filler information, leaving only the important information.

  • 9. The system must issue error messages in language familiar to the user so that they can be understood.

  • 10. The user must have quick and easy access to Help and Documentation.

Uses and advantages of heuristic analyzes


The main purpose of a heuristic analysis is to analyze the coherence in the contents of a website, as well as all the elements that can affect the user experience, in order to identify all errors and anticipate possible needs.

The main advantages that a heuristic analysis provides are:

    • Extrapolated data:  Data obtained in a heuristic analysis can be used to guide the design, maintain it in the future and even use it in the design of other projects.

    • Easy to carry out:  you do not need to invest many resources to carry out this type of analysis, and its difficulty is relatively low.

  • Quick results:  data is obtained quickly without requiring any type of treatment that lengthens waiting times.

How to perform a heuristic analysis


To carry out a correct heuristic analysis, it is advisable to follow the process shown below:

  • Define what you want to analyze:  The first step in a heuristic analysis is to determine its scope and to do this you must define the interface to analyze taking into account its state of development and its complexity.

  • Find suitable evaluators:  The next step in the heuristic analysis is to find suitable evaluators who are capable of detecting all possible usability problems that exist and that may go unnoticed by inexperienced users.

  • Do a complete analysis:  After finding the evaluators, the analysis and inspection stage will begin, where they will have to carry out their heuristic method individually and without sharing any type of information with other evaluators to avoid any type of bias in the results.

  • Interview with the evaluators:  Once the analysis and evaluation stage is finished, the evaluators can now share their opinions to discover common points and determine what the main problems are, as well as their possible solutions.