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This article discusses a useful method for evaluating applications for the purposes of identifying usability problems, namely heuristic evaluation. The article primarily presents Jakob Nielsen's 10 usability heuristics. While this set of heuristics was originally drawn up for applications on the desktop, the heuristics still provide a useful framework for evaluating mobile applications. Heuristic evaluations are a relatively quick and easy way of identifying usability problems in an application. The list highlights several issues that developers of mobile applications need to remember, such as:
- providing an exit option on every screen - minimizing the need for users to remember complicated lists of options; and - letting the user know what the system is doing at all times (visibility of system status)
It is important to remember that a heuristic evaluation should not be conducted by a single expert user, but by several experts, in order to identify common problems and in order to ensure that as many usability problems as possible are uncovered. The article includes a useful discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of this evaluation technique.
In the context of mobile applications, heuristic evaluations have also been criticized for not considering the context of use of mobile applications. Supplementary techniques such as heuristic walkthroughs and contextual walkthroughs, which consider the intended scenarios and context of use of the application in question have been suggested as a way of overcoming this shortcomings of heuristic evaluation in the mobile environment. For more information see here