I am conducting a usability study of medical content delivery systems and I was planning to use some heuristics present in a CHI paper for my Heuristic evaluation.However since the area of focus is slightly different from the paper,I am not sure if all the heuristics are applicable and whether I should use them as a guideline.

How would you handle such a situation,would you create your own heuristics or use an existing one and adapt it to suit your process ?

4 Answers 4


An excerpt from Jakob Nielsen's website:

They are called "heuristics" because they are more in the nature of rules of thumb than specific usability guidelines.

Nielsen's heuristics are the most common, but there are definitely other variations. Depending on the application, certain heuristics may apply more than others. It's also possible that a few heuristics were left out from the list you have.

Here's Nielsen's list: http://www.useit.com/papers/heuristic/heuristic_list.html


I think you should not start from scratch and save your time ! Very smart peoples have been creating heuristics based on their experience of the UX field. And most of them are not specific to a particular area.

Among all these lists, here are some famous and trusted ones :

Try to run these lists on a few parts of your system, and see if you get relevant results. Keep only the most appropriate list for a larger analysis and adapt it to your case of study.


According to Mankoff et al developing domain specific heuristics leads to finding more problems. That would be an argument for developing your own heuristics. I think that Nielsen's heuristics are reasonable starting point for that.


Develop your own specific set of heuristics based on research of existing heuristics. If they are a bit different because of the context they were used in, change them, but make sure the principal behind the written heuristic is solid. The important thing about the heuristics is that it is an accepted guideline or 'rule of thumb' which is supporting evidence for any claim you make in the study.

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