The relevance of Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design to improve User Experience across device platforms.

Shalom Ige
3 min readMar 15, 2021

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In order to improve/give users a better experience while using products, certain guidelines are being employed by designers. This set of guidelines are referred to as Usability Heuristics.
Below is a brief explanation on Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Heuristics and their relevance providing users with a better experience:

Visibility of System Status

The system is required to always keep users informed about what is going on through appropriate feedback within a reasonable time. This can be achieved through the use of progress indicators, state of buttons (enabled, disabled, hovered), duration indicators, etc

Match between System and the Real World

For users to get the best experience from systems. They are required to speak the user’s language with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user rather than system-oriented terms. Nobody wants to see lines of codes or 0’s and 1’s pop up when they click on the Add to Cart button. These heuristics can be through the use of error dialogues or metaphors (icons explaining actions)

User Control and Freedom

Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked “emergency exit”. This heuristic allows users to reformulate their goals and also employ the use of trial and error to learn a new system. The Undo and Redo buttons in user interfaces are examples of how this heuristic can manifest in designs.

Consistency and Standards

Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations or actions mean the same thing in various interfaces. So, to give a user a good experience, designers should follow platform conventions and standards by being consistent throughout systems either by using the same term for common functions or being consistent in the language used, layout and behaviour. Employing the use of this heuristic would help users learn even new systems rapidly.

Error Prevention

This heuristic helps designers to prevent errors/problems from occurring in the first place. Mistakes are common — users don’t see or read everything in the interface of a system and so, may have to be presented with a confirmation option before they commit to certain actions (especially risky ones).

Recognition rather than Recall

Recall forces users to learn through elaborative rehearsals. You’d agree with me that the user should not have to remember information from one part of a dialogue to another. Use recognition wherever possible but if a recall is required, ask yourself “Is it realistic for users to remember what I need them to recall?”

Flexibility and Efficiency of Use

Allow users to tailor their frequent actions using accelerators like keyboard shortcuts. Even though recall may be bad for novice and infrequent users but can be fast for expert users. Since different users have different goals, allow them to customise — But don’t force them to!

Aesthetic and Minimalist Design

Visual clutter makes it harder to find and focus on desired actions. So, they should be reduced by using certain aids like the Gestalt principle.

Good use of colours, shapes, motion guide the eye and thereby give users a great experience.

The more there is to see, the fewer users will actually see.

Error Recovery

Ensure you help users to recognize, diagnose and recover from errors. Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes) and also, make sure to precisely indicate the problem and constructively suggest a solution.

Help and Documentation

Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user’s task, list concrete steps to be carried out and not be too large.

I really hope this was insightful.
Drop your comments and help me improve in my attempt to help solve problems.
Thank you!

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