I'm not a user interface designer, but I test UI programs. Any pointers to things that user interface testers should know/consider when they test UI?

  • What kind of things? Methods? Types of questions? How to find testers? What questions to ask? Please be more specific. – Rahul Sep 21 '10 at 7:42
  • Hi. Are you talking about usability testing (finding problems by getting real users to interact with the UI), automated UI testing (using tools like Selenium or Window Licker to write programs to see whether the UI does what it should do), or some kind of exploratory testing (when you sit and interact with the system and try and find problems.)? – adrianh Sep 21 '10 at 13:16
  • I was thinking more along the lines of things to look for to evaluate UI implementations. For example, rules of thumb for what types of controls to use in what kinds of situations. – Ron Pihlgren Sep 24 '10 at 4:47

Jakob Nielsen has a good overview of some concepts to consider when testing an interface. Without more specifics in your question though, this is about as well as I can help.

These are ten general principles for user interface design. They are called "heuristics" because they are more in the nature of rules of thumb than specific usability guidelines.specific usability guidelines.1

And a more detailed look at heuristic evaluations if that method is intriguing to you.


Rocket surgery, by Steve Krug.

Especially when getting real users involved.

  • 1
    Seconded - great read if you are starting out with informal user testing – Tom Nov 16 '11 at 14:29

If you want to automate the testing of user interfaces from a browser, then there's been some awesome progress with WebDriver (which interoperates now with Selenium 2.0).


You didn't specify exactly what kind of testing you have in mind, but here are some resources:

Another option is hiring really affordable folks on Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk service.


If you want to evaluate against 'rules of thumb of generic interface design' then Neilsen's actual list of 'rules of thumb' (rather than his how to do it article) are here:


However these are very 'high level' (ie lacking in detail).

Apple wrote the best book with the generic rules of thumb back in 1992. It's here:


And you can read the contents page here (scroll on down). You'll see it covers most of Nielsen's list:


Its quite a gold mine of useful information.

You can also buy it digitally here:


Apple still have 'Human Interface Guidelines' on their website - but they've reduced the amount of generic content (particularly the pschology background) - and made them more biased towards 'how to design the Apple' interface:


Not sure if this is what you are looking for but here is a Heuristic Evalution checklist I've used before



I think ideally you should be validating against heuristics like below:

Simple = Colors & BG's, Page Weight, Page Design, Annoyances
Efficient = Productivity, Fields & Forms, Minimization of work, Readability
Intuitive = Labeling, language, and grammar, Designed for the audience, Controls
            Labeling, language, and grammar
Engaging = Comfort, Credibility and trust, Personalization & Customization, Collaboration,       
           Branding & Visual Design
Supportive = Visibility, Help and instructions, Error handling, Error display
Accessible = Perceivable, Operable, Understandable
Clear structure = Navigational controls, Navigation model, Information architecture

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