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  • Writer's pictureDinh Huy Truong

Efficient Ways to Conduct Heuristic Evaluation for Your Agile Product

Updated: Aug 11, 2023



“Good, Fast and Cheap” a product can be any two of these but never all three.

In recent years, many UX methodologies have been created to help designers to find out problems as well as rooms for product improvement efficiently. However, as we are living in the Agile world, “Good” and “Fast” are the most important criteria that should be sticked with. In this case, Heuristic Evaluation is a good choice, or rather, the compass for our product design strategy.




A. What is the Heuristic Evaluation?

Heuristic evaluation (Nielsen and Molich, 1990; Nielsen 1994) is a usability engineering method for finding usability problems in a user interface design, thereby making them addressable and solvable as part of an iterative design process. It involves a small set of expert evaluators who examine the interface and assess its compliance with “heuristics,” or recognized usability principles. Such processes help prevent product failure post-release.



Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design

  1. Visibility of system status

  2. Match between system and the real world

  3. User control and freedom

  4. Consistency and standards

  5. Error prevention

  6. Recognition rather than recall

  7. Flexibility and efficiency of use

  8. Aesthetic and minimalist design

  9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

  10. Help and documentation


B. How to conduct a Heuristic Evaluation efficiently


1. Cleverly Select a Starting Point

Normally, to conduct Heuristic Evaluation, designers are used to getting started from the initial flow (User Flow) first i.e sign-in flow, sign-up flow…Unfortunately this is not always a good starting point. Therefore, even if we conduct Heuristic Evaluation in the right way, the conversion rate still does not get better.

Now it’s time for us to change!

Instead of starting from the initial flow, let’s find the pain-point of our product first. By using user tracking tools such as Google Analytics, MixPanel, HotJar… we are not only able to compare the performance among flows but also find out where is the worst step needs to focus on. Then based on numbers, let’s determine which flow and step with should we move forward with.



Step-by-Step Summary:

  • Break down the big flow into smaller ones.

  • Evaluate the performance of flows.

  • Pick one flow that you think it impacts to conversion rate the most.

  • Now, let’s move to next step.

Our Case Study: Manabie — Educational App

By using MixPanel, we were not only able to track different flows but also compare their performances. Eventually, we decided to move forward with Learning Flow first.

2. Pick 3 Heuristics only to conduct each week

“We will conduct all 10 Heuristics everyday”. It’s great to be ambitious! However it definitely consumes much time which is scarce and precious with us, especially for start-up companies. Furthermore, if we just have a few members, conducting 10 Heuristics at once is really complicated, moreover it may lead to significant decrease in accuracy of evaluation. Therefore, narrowing down Heuristics is needed and necessary. Basically, a Simple Bar Chart can help us a lot in this situation. Just conducting the Usability Test one round, we are able to get the list of findings from users. From this, with a simple synthesis methodology we can create a Bar Chart below.


Now, we have got a Bar Chart. Next, let’s discuss with team members about the priority, feasibility and desirability of Heuristics. It’s better to go through all from the highest to the lowest percentage. Eventually, together we pick 3 Heuristics to move forward.

Our Case Study: Manabie — Educational App

By using a Bar Chart, we have determined to move forward with 3 Heuristics below:

  1. Visibility of system status

  2. User control and freedom

  3. Aesthetic and minimalist design



1. Visibility of system status

  • Since the number “2/6” is not easy to understand, we have replaced it with circle progress.

  • Clearly communicating 2 kinds of Topic by using text i.e “Learning”, “Practice” instead of color (Blue, Green).

  • Using specific icons for each topic to users recognize with ease.

  • Adding drop-down component for course-selecting and grade purpose. This is more convenient compared to scrolling down. Furthermore, it is placed on top of the screen so that users are able to see it anywhere on the screen.


2. User control and freedom

  • Allows users to see previous and following questions on the top navigation bar.

  • Users are able to Pause and Resume the exercises anytime. Technically, Users’ data are automatically stored from system perspective, so it is able to call back anytime.

  • Adding Study Guide on top screen so that users can open Study Guide wherever on the screen.




3. Aesthetic and minimalist design

  • After getting feedback from the users, we decided to re-design the screen following the modern and minimalist style.

  • Keep Learning Objectives to be simple and separated so that user can focus on learning better.


3. And, it’s time to measure the success! After a hard working week, we are eager to see “how these changes impact the conversion rate in reality”. But be patient, in order to get results it will take us several days or even weeks.

In an advantage case, the conversion rate increases significantly, so it’s time to cheer for the success. Also, we should document the ways we have tackled problems so that it can be re-used for similar cases in the future. In a disadvantage case, the conversion rate does not get better. In this case, we should look back at the user’s data to see how numbers change. Throughout this stage, we might realize where our solution performs worst. Then let’s get started from there again. Don’t give up! Learning from failure is not as bad as we through. On the other hand, it is a good way to improve the UX design skill.

Conclusion

Heuristic Evaluation is a UX methodology to improve our product efficiently. However, to conduct this we should cleverly select a good starting point, narrowing down the number of Heuristics to conduct within a week. And don’t not forget to check user’s data frequently to measure the success of your solution. Thanks for reading!



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