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UX Heuristics: What the Heck is a Heuristic, Anyways?

As designers and developers, we are confronted with design problems every day. The solutions we create connect customers with brands or help employees accomplish vital workplace tasks. Each day, we design and develop products for users who have different values, interests and varied levels of technological aptitude. When the stakes are high and users diverse, how do we make sure they all love their digital tools?

This is where UX Heuristics come in.

So, what’s a heuristic?

The origin of the word heuristic lies in curiosity and inquiry. It’s often defined as an approach to problem solving that employs a practical method to reach an immediate goal – in other words, heuristic is a rule of thumb. In user experience design, heuristics are set of general principles used to uncover problems and identify areas for improvement. At DevFacto, we use them to evaluate, facilitate, and in some cases predict the strength, quality, and effectiveness our work.

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

The set of heuristics we use are based on the well-regarded work of Abbey Covert, whose list was built in consideration of Nielsen & Molich, Peter Morville, Lou Rosenfeld, Ergonomics of Human System Interaction and most recently Resmini & Rosati.

Here are the 10 UX Heuristics that we at DevFacto have developed over the years of working with hundreds of clients on a variety of software, mobile and workplace solutions:

  1. Findable – The ease with which information can be located.
  2. Accessible – The ease of approachability or entry.
  3. Clear – The ease with which a user can understand what is in front of them.
  4. Communicative – The information provided to users throughout their experience.
  5. Useful (Effective) – Helping users produce desirable or intended results.
  6. Credible – The quality of being trusted and believed in.
  7. Controllable – Placing the user in the driver seat.
  8. Valuable – Being of great use, service and importance.
  9. Learnable – Being quickly understood with minimal training.
  10. Delightful – Exceeding expectations and creating “wow” experience.

How to use UX heuristics?

Your first consideration of heuristics should be in how they can drive you to ask the right questions. You can gain value simply by asking questions like “is (some important thing) findable in my current project?” or “does the solution I am building communicate the right things to people using it?”

When you can identify the most applicable heuristics against a particular task or user goal you get closer to achieving meaningful outcomes. Suddenly, you’re honing in on what makes a great interaction for that user, and creating a really valuable piece of work.

Interested in diving deeper into UX Heuristics? Download our Heuristics in UX Design eBook – it’s a great introductory guide to UX Heuristics and how to succeed using them, brought to you by our UX team (best of all, it’s completely free).