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I am currently preparing myself to conduct a heuristic evaluation of a web application. I am choosing the main tasks to analyse and I already set up which heuristics I want to follow: Nielsen's 10 Usability Heuristics.

This will be a formative evaluation as I want to analyse the current solution to design a better one. My desired output of this analysis would be a set of application's problems (bad things, things to improve) and successes (good things, things to keep).

My question is: can I use Heuristic Evaluation to also list application's good qualities, or Heuristic Evaluation should only be used to catch problems?

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2 Answers

According to NN/g

Heuristic evaluation involves having a small set of evaluators examine the interface and judge its compliance with recognized usability principles (the "heuristics"). http://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-to-conduct-a-heuristic-evaluation/

The main idea is, you take each heuristic and evaluate it's implementation on the web app. You are measuring the effectiveness of the implementation - good, bad, ok. It is only after you evaluation, that you come to know whether it is good or bad.

Hence, I would say that you can surely use the Heuristic Evaluation both ways, for catching problems and highlighting the good points.

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I can't really see that Heuristic evaluation is for "bad" at all, as much as effectiveness. It might be used more often to weed out bad, but it is by no means the only design element of it. –  Austin French Mar 26 '13 at 18:04
    
So, evaluating as good or bad only comes afterwards? My question arose because I was trying to create a table to register all of the findings. Everywhere I read about HE, it was all about problems. So I came up with the following columns: Issue# | Problem | Heuristics violated | Severity | How found? But then I realized that this approach won't help me identifying the positive aspects. –  bisc8 Mar 26 '13 at 18:24
    
@rk. In that link Nielsen also says: "A debriefing is also a good opportunity for discussing the positive aspects of the design, since heuristic evaluation does not otherwise address this important issue.". –  bisc8 Mar 26 '13 at 18:26
    
@bisc8 Exactly! Thanks for pointing out the line :) Heuristic evaluation just gives you the framework for what to test, it is upto the evaluator to decide what is good or bad. –  rk. Mar 26 '13 at 18:29
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Heuristic evaluation is conventionally used to foresee potential problem areas. But you can use it to do a SWOT analysis type evaluation since heuristics are just sets of abstract rules (or goals)... Even for steering a design team in the design process.

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