Heuristic Evaluation of User Interfaces

Jakob Nielsen, Sunsoft

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University May 20, 1994


Heuristic evaluation is a usability inspection method aimed at finding usability problems in an interface based on generally accepted usability heuristics. It is particularly cheap and fast to use and is well-suited as a supplement to traditional usability testing. The method can be used in all stages of the development lifecycle, even at early stages where no interface has been implemented yet. Heuristic evaluation is the easiest of all the discount usability engineering methods to use and it was in fact the second-most used method in a recent technology transfer study.


Jakob Nielsen is a Distinguished Engineer in the Human Factors Engineering organization at SunSoft. Dr. Nielsen's earlier affiliations include the IBM User Interface Institute, the Technical University of Denmark, and Bellcore (Bell Communications Research). Nielsen coined the term "discount usability engineering," and co-invented the heuristic evaluation methods. He is the author of the bestselling textbooks "Usability Engineering" and "Hypertext and Hypermedia" (both Academic Press). Together with Robert L. Mack from IBM, Nielsen edited the definitive volume "Usability Inspection Methods" (published at the end of April 1994 by John Wiley & Sons).


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