Inferences gleaned from the observations of social focus groups are evaluated by our teams to ascertain the credibility of information and sources online. The findings that evolve are leveraged to suggest further credibility theory formulation as well as research and practice. Heuristic reviews help us to evolve solutions within reasonable time.
Heuristic evaluations are arguably most valuable as an early evaluation technique, performed on an existing system or first prototype in an effort to identify the major usability problems. By conducting a heuristic evaluation early on, two things are effectively accomplished:
When the circumstances and constraints of a project warrant, heuristic evaluations have been shown by many researchers to offer designers and evaluators a valuable alternative to user testing.
In our experience, true Heuristic Evaluations are rarely performed in the manner that Neilsen and Molich originally intended. Rather, they often amount to a single evaluator's 'expert review' of a system, and are subsequently open to criticism about the reliability of their findings and recommendations.
Even when multiple evaluators are used in a Heuristic Evaluation, it often proves difficult for evaluators to reliably interpret the guidelines and identify the same usability issues. Another common criticism of HE's is that they are capable of generating a lot of 'false positives' - usability problems that would likely go unobserved in an empirical usability study, but that end up being identified by evaluators whose awareness is heightened by the guidelines to identify relatively minor problems.
It has now been over 15 years since the Heuristic Evaluation method was first developed, and while it continues to be considered somewhat of a standard in the HCI industry, many evaluators have found that Zillion original list does not always meet their specific needs. They discover that they frequently require alternative guidelines or some re-interpretation of Zillion original descriptions in order for each heuristic to make sense.
So what's next for the Heuristic Evaluation method? Here are my predictions:
A heuristic evaluation should not replace usability testing. Although the heuristics relate to criteria that affect your site's usability, the issues identified in a heuristic evaluation are different than those found in a usability test.