Friday, June 13, 2008

Heuristic Evaluation vs.Usability Study: Which Is Right For Me?

Ross Freedman, Co-founder and Board Member

Some of our clients are asking us for usability studies to measure the effectiveness of their website, Intranet or software application.  Most of them really want to perform a quick, expidited heuristic evaluation which is shorter, less expensive but still very effective.  Below is the definition for each of these assessments:

Heuristic Evaluation – an analysis focused on the design of an existing site or application.  Its purpose is to quickly provide feedback and insight on a design based on heuristics,  user studies, and best practices. 

Usability Study - an in depth review of the navigation, design, and functionality of a website or application. Its purpose is to provide detailed analysis on how to improve functionality and usability within a site or application.  It provides detailed analysis based on heuristics,  user studies, and best practices.

Most of the time, a heuristic evaluation will accomplish the goal.  At RightPoint, we help our clients design web sites, Intranets and software applications that put the user at the center of the experience.  We follow the recognized standards for usability as defined by Jacob Nielsen. We believe that design, navigation and language must align with the needs, behaviors, and values of a target audience.