Heuristic Principles for HCI Design:
Heuristic evaluation is a usability inspection method wherein a set of evaluators examine interface designs against recognized usability principles (the “heuristics”). Here are some commonly recognized heuristic principles for HCI:
- Visibility of System Status: The system should always keep users informed about what’s going on, through appropriate feedback within a reasonable time.
- Match Between System and the Real World: The system should speak the user’s language, with words, phrases, and concepts familiar to the user.
- User Control and Freedom: Users should be provided with a clear “emergency exit” to leave unintended states without having to go through an extended process.
- Consistency and Standards: Users shouldn’t have to guess whether different words or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.
- Error Prevention: It’s best to design systems where users cannot make serious errors. If an error is possible, the system should be able to detect it and offer a solution.
- Recognition Rather Than Recall: Information required to use the system (options, actions, etc.) should be visible or easily retrievable.
- Flexibility and Efficiency of Use: Accelerators, which might be unseen by novice users, can speed up the interaction for expert users.
- Aesthetic and Minimalist Design: Every extra unit of information competes with essential information and diminishes its relative visibility.
- Help Users Recognize, Diagnose, and Recover from Errors: Error messages should be expressed in plain language, indicate the problem, and suggest a solution.
- Help and Documentation: If it’s necessary to provide help documentation, it should be easy to search, focused on the user’s task, and list concrete steps to follow.
Principles of Good Design and Usability:
- Simplicity: A simple design reduces complexity for users, making the interface more intuitive.
- Feedback: Users should receive feedback on actions (e.g., if they click a button, the system should indicate that it received the click).
- Affordance: The design should suggest its usage. For instance, a button should look pressable, and a slider should look draggable.
- Mapping: The relationship between controls and their actions should be clear and logical.
- Consistency: A consistent design uses similar operations and elements to achieve similar tasks.
- Constraint: Limit the actions that can be performed at any given time, which can guide users and prevent errors.
- Tolerance: The design should be forgiving, allowing users to undo and redo actions and preventing minor errors from having severe consequences.
- Scalability: The design should cater to both novice users and expert users, providing simplicity for the former and depth for the latter.
In HCI, abiding by these design and usability principles can significantly enhance the user experience. They offer a framework for creating user-friendly, intuitive, and effective interfaces, ensuring that technology serves and complements human needs and behaviors.