UI Design

Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design

August 26, 2022
Credit to Anna Yashina

At first glance,"usability" may appear too nebulous and subjective to determine whether your items are truly useful. However, usability is vital whether you're developing a login screen, a search experience, or whatever you can think!

That's why there are metrics (heuristics) to help you determine the usability of your products. These heuristics are helpful as standalone guides. However, when coupled with usability testing, the heuristics have the capacity to (re)shape your ideas and produce more useful items.

How do you determine whether or not your products can truly be usable? This article will discuss ten different methods that can be used to evaluate the usability of your product.

What Are the 10 Usability Heuristics forUser Interface Design?

Visibility of system status

Users of the system should be kept up to date with what is happening at all times through suitable feedback provided within a reasonable amount of time.

Maintaining constant communication with the user throughout all interactions is essential to reduce the risk of making mistakes and causing irritation. Even though it's not necessary to inform them of every single action that's occurring (that would be too much information!), there are a lot of crucial circumstances like the following:

  • When a form's submit button is pressed.
  • When an order for goods is received
  • When a product is added or removed from the shopping cart.
  • Whether a login attempt was successful.
  • When inputted data is erroneous or in an inappropriate format.

Matching the real world and system

The system should utilise words, ideas, and concepts recognisable to the user instead of system-specific jargon. Follow real-world standards and arrange information concisely and naturally.

For instance, it would be quite misleading to the users if the shopping cart were referred to as"items Array" because that is how the cart is recorded on the backend. Most users may connect to the real-world example of shopping at a store, conveyed by the terms "cart" or "shopping cart."

As products are added to the cart across the buying experience, a green check mark shows with the notification. This graphic is recognisable to the user: a check mark denotes success, and the colour green implies "go" from traffic lights and other standards.

When the order is complete,"Order Success" is displayed rather than anything unclear like"Affirmative in your Request for Processing." While the second response choice may potentially be correct, it is highly unlikely that it speaks the user's language.

User freedom and control

Users frequently do activities by accident. They require an indicated "emergency exit" to escape the undesirable action without going through a lengthy procedure.

When people can easily reverse a process or undo an action, it creates a sense of independence and self-assurance. Exits enable users to maintain control of the system and avoid becoming irritated and stuck.

  • Enable Undo and Redo operations.
  • Display an obvious method of cancelling the current interaction, such as a Cancel button.
  • Ensure that the exit is well marked and easily located.

Consistency and standards

It should not be necessary for users to question if distinct words, contexts, or actions have the same meaning. Adhere to platform and industry standards.

According to Jakob'sLaw, consumers spend most of their time utilising digital items that are not yours. Their expectations are based on their encounters with these other products. Inconsistency may raise users' cognitive load by requiring them to understand new things.

Error prevention

Although error warnings are essential, the most effective designs prevent errors from arising in the first place. Simply eliminate error-prone scenarios or check for them and provide users with a confirmation choice before taking action.

Slips and mistakes are the two forms of errors. Unconscious errors produced by in attention constitute slips. Mistakes are intentional blunders caused by a misalignment between the user's mental model and the design.

  • Establish your priorities: Prevent costly errors first, then small problems.
  • Set important constraints and default values to avoid slips
  •  Remove memory constraints, provide undo, and notify users to prevent errors.

Recognition rather than recall

Make items, actions, and options apparent to reduce the cognitive burden placed on the user. It is unreasonable to require the user to recall information from one interface section before moving on to another. When necessary, information that is key to using the design (such as the labels for the fields or the items on the menu)should be readily apparent or easy to retrieve.

Human beings have limited capacity in their memory. Users are expected to exert less mental effort when interacting with interfaces encouraging recognition.

Flexibility and efficiency of use

The design should be able to accommodate both beginner and experienced users by including shortcuts. These shortcuts should be concealed from less knowledgeable users. Make it possible for users to customise frequently performed actions.

Flexible processes can be conducted in various ways, allowing individuals to choose the approach that best suits their needs.

  • Offer accelerators such as keyboard shortcuts and touch gestures
  • Enable personalisation by adapting tailored content and functionality to specific users.
  • Provide customisation so people can choose how they want the product to function.

Aesthetic and minimalist design

Interfaces should not include unnecessary or seldom-required details. Each additional data unit in an interface contends with the relevant units and lowers their relative visibility.

This heuristic does not require the adoption of a flat design; rather, it emphasises the need to keep the information and visual design centred on the basics. Verify that the interface's visual aspects serve the user's core objectives.

Assist users in recognising, diagnosing, and recovering from mistakes

Error messages must be written in clear language (there shouldn't be any error codes), accurately describe the issue, and provide helpful solutions.

It is also important that these error messages be displayed with visual modifications that will assist users in noticing and recognising them.

  • Use typical error message images, including big, red writing.
  • Inform users of the error in a language they can comprehend; avoid using technical terms.
  • Offer users an instant remedy to the mistake, such as a shortcut.

Help and documentation

It would be ideal if the system required no extra explanation. However, documentation may be required to assist users in knowing how to finish their work.

Help and documentation of the content ought to be searchable and relevant to the user's activity. Be succinct and list the precise steps that must be taken.

Conclusion

Whether you are merely examining your designs, planning for usability testing, or performing a UX audit, the above ten usability heuristics for user interface design should guide your observations.

Image credit:
Huī Lín