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27 February 2013
Heuristic evaluation originates in usability research, as a technique for early formative evaluation of digital systems. A group of experts is asked to assess a particular design using a given rubric (set of heuristics). It offers a low-fidelity rapid evaluation which often uncovers design flaws at an early stage. In a heuristic evaluation, a group of experts (usually 5-7) are asked to “walk through” the evaluated system as if they were users (learners) engaged in a typical activity. The experts are presented with a set of design heuristics - “rules of thumb” against which they are asked to assess their experience. Often they are provided with a score sheet, where they are asked to note any violation of these heuristics and rate its severity.
Heuristic evaluation is a methodology for investigating the usability of software originally developed by Jakob Nielsen (1993, 2000), a widely acknowledged usability expert. According to Nielsen (1994), heuristic evaluation involves “involves having a small set of evaluators examine the interface and judge its compliance with recognized usability principles (the "heuristics”).” Nielsen’s original protocol for heuristic evaluation can be found on the Web at: http://www.useit.com/papers/heuristic/." (Reeves et al, 2002)