User interface (UI) usability heuristics are general guidelines or principles that help designers create intuitive and user-friendly interfaces. They are based on research, best practices, and common sense in the field of ergonomics, which is the study of how humans interact with products and systems. In this article, we will explore some of the most common UI usability heuristics and how you can evaluate them using heuristic evaluation methods.
isibility of system status
The first heuristic is to keep the user informed about what is going on with the system, such as feedback, progress, or errors. This helps the user feel in control and reduces uncertainty and frustration. For example, you can use indicators, messages, animations, or sounds to show the system status. You can evaluate this heuristic by checking if the system provides clear and timely feedback for every user action, and if the feedback matches the user’s expectations and needs.
Match between system and the real world
The second heuristic is to use familiar words, concepts, and conventions that match the user’s mental model and the real world. This helps the user understand and navigate the system easily and avoid confusion. For example, you can use icons, labels, metaphors, or analogies that are consistent with the user’s domain and culture. You can evaluate this heuristic by checking if the system uses language and symbols that are meaningful and relevant to the user, and if the system follows common standards and norms.
User control and freedom
The third heuristic is to provide the user with options and flexibility to perform their tasks, and to allow them to undo or redo their actions. This helps the user feel empowered and confident, and prevents errors and frustration. For example, you can use menus, buttons, shortcuts, or gestures to enable the user to access different functions and features, and to provide undo and redo functions. You can evaluate this heuristic by checking if the system supports the user’s goals and preferences, and if the system allows the user to recover from mistakes.
Consistency and standards
The fourth heuristic is to maintain consistency and follow standards across the system, such as layout, design, terminology, or behavior. This helps the user learn and use the system quickly and efficiently, and avoids confusion and errors. For example, you can use consistent colors, fonts, icons, or navigation across the system, and follow established conventions and guidelines for your platform or industry. You can evaluate this heuristic by checking if the system is coherent and predictable, and if the system conforms to the user’s expectations and habits.
The fifth heuristic is to prevent errors from occurring in the first place, rather than relying on error messages or correction. This helps the user avoid frustration and dissatisfaction, and improves the system’s reliability and usability. For example, you can use constraints, validations, confirmations, or defaults to prevent or minimize user errors. You can evaluate this heuristic by checking if the system anticipates and avoids potential errors, and if the system provides clear and helpful guidance and support.
The sixth heuristic is to make the user recognize rather than recall information, such as objects, actions, or options. This helps the user reduce their cognitive load and memory burden, and enhances their performance and satisfaction. For example, you can use icons, images, labels, or cues to make the user recognize information, rather than forcing them to remember it. You can evaluate this heuristic by checking if the system minimizes the user’s memory demand, and if the system provides relevant and visible information.