The heuristic evaluation is a form of usability testing in which a group of expert evaluators classifies usability problems based on the ten usability heuristics.
The heuristic evaluation is a relatively quick and flexible method of usability testing, compared to other methods. Heuristic evaluation is highly based on the evaluators’ expertise, and is not a replacement for testing a product with real users.
Designs are evaluated based on compliance with this set of interaction design principles so that designers can continue to iterate and make their designs more usable. Evaluators are tasked with classifying usability problems into categories based on an agreed-upon set of heuristics and rating the seriousness of each problem (source: Nielsen Norman Group):
- 0 - A usability problem cannot be agreed upon.
- 1 - Cosmetic problem only: need not be fixed unless extra time is available on project.
- 2 - Minor usability problem: fixing this should be given low priority.
- 3 - Major usability problem: important to fix, so should be given high priority.
- 4 - Usability catastrophe: imperative to fix this before product can be released.