Heuristic evaluation (also known as expert review, usability audit, usability inspection) is a usability evaluation of a product, which involves a small set of expert evaluators who examine the level of its compliance with recognized usability principles, also called heuristics. Expert evaluators are needed, although it could be carried out by less experienced people, provided that they receive some training and a checklist, however, fewer problems get discovered that way. Each evaluator inspects the interface individually, the findings are then aggregated. It differs from user testing, because the responsibility of analyzing the interface is on evaluators, not a researcher or moderator.
There are multiple benefits of letting experts evaluate usability:
- They provide quick feedback to designers, relatively easy to do compared to other methods;
- Cheaper than many other methods, such as user testing.
- Could be carried out before user testing, so that biggest usability problems are discovered and addressed before they prevent participants from discovering harder to spot, their workflow specific issues. Doing this would save a lot of money, since you would need fewer rounds of user testing.
- Reviews are also excellent in competitive benchmarking, since they allow comparing the usability of your product to your competitor’s product.