10 Usability Heuristics based on Jakob Nielsen’s with Examples

Welcome to this website,
Hi introduce me Wisnu Firmansyah, this is a series of exams from my independent study program on UX Writing. Okay no need to take long, let’s start with some introductory words about 10 Usability Hereustics according to Jakob Nielsen.

UX writing is a crucial aspect of user experience design that focuses on creating effective and meaningful content for digital interfaces. The purpose of UX writing is to guide users through a website or application, providing them with the necessary information and instructions to complete their tasks.

One of the most important factors in creating a successful UX writing strategy is understanding the 10 usability heuristics according to Jakob Nielsen. These heuristics provide a set of guidelines for creating interfaces that are intuitive, easy to use, and meet the needs of users.

The 10 usability heuristics include principles such as visibility of system status, consistency and standards, and error prevention. Each of these heuristics provides a unique perspective on how to design interfaces that meet the needs of users and promote a positive user experience.

By applying these heuristics to UX writing, designers can create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. This, in turn, helps users navigate interfaces with ease, reducing frustration and increasing engagement.

Overall, understanding the 10 usability heuristics is essential for anyone involved in UX writing or user experience design. By keeping these principles in mind, designers can create interfaces that are effective, efficient, and enjoyable for users to interact with.

When we were working on a 3rd party API for image cropping in our TutorsWeb application, we observed one usability issue. When the user uploads an image for cropping, he/she needs to wait until the image appears on screen with the square box. Depending on internet speed, this load time varies for many users. There is no way for the user to know if he needs to wait or continue to the next page.

This principle states that the user should know what’s going on inside the system. We need to give a feedback of his/her action within a reasonable time. This feedback is normally associated with points of action and can be provided using a color change, loader, time-left graphics, etc.

One example is twitter making a swoosh sound when a tweet is being posted. Another example is Google Drive showing the status of a document upload.

Is there something on your application that a user may not understand? This is very common to miss since we get associated with the product for over a period of time. It’s also important for the application to speak the language of the target user base.

Neil Patel could very well say “Sign Up” on his landing page. Instead, he chose to say ambitiously — “Yes, I want Neil to teach me how to grow my Business!”. It sets the context and speaks the everyday language.

This principle talks about giving the user the freedom to navigate and perform actions. The freedom to undo any accidental actions. This principle can be best illustrated by the Gmail’s flash message with undo action when we accidentally delete an email.

And below is Facebook checking on me if I tapped “Cancel” by mistake.

Consistency is the key. A Submit button in one page should look the same across the site on any page. If we show the data in a particular table format on one page, it should look the same the next time data is being shown in tabular format. If the header is displayed in a certain way on the public pages, it should be the same when he/she logs in.

How the same button can transform across different pages of the same site. Note that this is not a change of state.

Externally, it’s risk-less to follow the standard conventions. A “How It Works” link invokes similar expectation for a user across sites. Google Plus ambitiously launched “+1” to counter Facebook’s “Like” without much success. Facebook’s “Like” already became a standard and sites like LinkedIn adopted it without contesting.

BrandFlakesforBreakfast’s Illustration

How many times did your outlook remind you that there is no attachment in the email while you mentioned that something is attached? Outlook intuitively scans the email for such keywords and alerts the user before sending. This is Error Prevention.

Below is an example of Google Search trying to correct my spelling:

If you have set some rules for the format of user password, try to validate it as the user types rather than waiting for him to click submit.

It’s always better to suggest the user a set of options than to let him remember and type the whole thing. The goal is to minimize the application of user memory.

Below is an example of Quora suggesting possible questions based on what I am trying to type.

One more example is when Quora lets you pick the topics of interest from a list of options rather than asking you to type all of them which would have been disastrous.

The Interface should be flexible transforming itself between a novice user and an advanced user. One frequents this option while installing a new software that asks if the user wants to go ahead with default installation or custom installation. An advanced user chooses a custom installation to cut out the unnecessary services.

Below is an example of setting up Exchange on Android which hides the complex features under Advanced.

Prioritization comes to play when this aspect is being considered. For the designer or the developer, all the information that’s being presented on the page is relevant. The product manager needs to ask the end user if it is so. Is every information displayed on interface necessary and useful?

Google has been resisting the temptation to show more information on their search page for years. This is could be shown as the example of the best possible minimalist design.

Google: Nothing More and Nothing Less.

Interfaces need to be cleared of unnecessary elements and content that do not support the page goals and tasks. Apple provides only the basic information of feature hiding additional information under “Learn More”. Check the same product on a retail website to understand the importance of clutter-free experience.

Errors are inadvertent in the user journey. A check needs to be made if those errors are being explained to the user in understandable language. In the below example, I have entered a fictitious username and password and the error message I got is either the username or the password is incorrect. Here we are not informing the user if the username is invalid or if the password is wrong.

Below is the example of how MailChimp is handling this scenario:

A check needs to be done if exception handling is done across the application so that relevant messages can be shown to the user. Empty state messaging, 404, 500, etc are some examples. There is no dearth of innovative 404 pages on the web. One example is below:

If a user has reached this step, something is not right with the interface. A great user interface lets the user navigate through it;s features without any documentation or training. But if there is any user who could not make it out, adequate help should be provided within the product.

Below is an example of GoDaddy’s Help page. While there is a search field, there are main categories and frequently asked queries on the same page.

These guidelines are general rules of thumb and will mostly be applicable to any web & mobile application with some exceptions. Always use your judgment to implement these principles or any other UX practices by keeping yourself in end user’s shoes.

In conclusion, UX writing plays a critical role in creating a successful user experience design. By applying the 10 usability heuristics according to Jakob Nielsen, UX writers can create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. These heuristics provide a set of guidelines for designing interfaces that are intuitive, easy to use, and meet the needs of users.

Designers must keep in mind that users are diverse, and their needs and preferences may vary. Therefore, applying these heuristics alone may not guarantee a perfect user experience. However, using these heuristics as a foundation for creating UX writing can greatly enhance the user experience and reduce user frustration.

By considering these heuristics, UX writers can ensure that the content they create supports the usability and accessibility of the interface. This, in turn, can lead to higher user satisfaction and engagement, ultimately helping businesses achieve their goals.

Overall, UX writing is a vital component of user experience design, and applying the 10 usability heuristics according to Jakob Nielsen can significantly improve the effectiveness of UX writing in creating interfaces that meet the needs of users.

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