Complexity: High
Time required: 3-4 hours
Material required: prototypes, paper, pen, computer, printer
Note: the ideal number of evaluators is 5.

References: Nielsen, J. (1994). Heuristic evaluation. In J. Nielsen and R. L. Mack (eds.), Usability Inspection Methods. New York: John Wiley & Sons,

What is it for?

Heuristic evaluation is a usability inspection technique that is cost-efficient while also effective. It is a process in which evaluators analyze on their own the usability of a service/product according to a set of heuristics, i.e. a set of pre-defined criteria to test usability. Doing so allows innovators to iterate the design process quickly.

How to use it?

The initial heuristics used were made to evaluate user interfaces in computer software but based on the product at hand the following heuristics should be modified according to market research and requirements. For services, these could be based on touchpoints, i.e. the points along the service where the users and the organization “meet”.
There are three phases of heuristic evaluation. The ideal number of evaluators is five.
Phase 1: The Briefing Session in which the evaluators are told what to do. It is useful to prepare a specific document to either read off of or have the evaluators read on their own so that each evaluator is given the exact same information.
Phase 2: The Evaluation Period, in which the evaluators inspect on their own the product/service at least two times. During the first time, the evaluators become familiar with the process.
In the second run, the evaluator can stop and specific points and identify specific usability problems.
Evaluators can be given specific evaluation tasks. In some cases, it could also be useful to provide the evaluator a second person who writes down the problems encountered.
Phase 3: The Debriefing Session, in which the evaluators come together as a group to discuss their findings and brainstorm ways to fix any problems.
When setting up your own evaluation, the first step is to define your heuristics. Then evaluators must be chosen and the briefing document prepared.