The 10 Usability Heuristics Reimagined
Summary: Jakob Nielsen's 10 usability heuristics are the bedrock of UX, encapsulating the most critical design issues that make a user interface difficult or easy to use.
“10 ducks in a row,” generated by Midjourney.
I wrote the current list of 10 usability heuristics in 1994. See the infographic at the end of this article for the canonical list of Jakob Nielsen’s 10 usability heuristics. It’s the same now as in 1994.
The 1994 version (and thus the current version, as shown in the infographic) was based on my detailed factor analysis of design projects at the telephone company research lab where I worked at the time, refining the even earlier list of heuristics from 1990 that I had crafted in partnership with Rolf Molich when I was a university professor in Denmark.
Recently, I've been thrilled to see many individuals take “Nielsen’s 10 heuristics” and breathe new life into them, presenting these enduring UX principles in innovative and captivating ways. Make my 10 heuristics your own! I love it: you absolutely have my blessings.
Celebrating different ways to present and think of Jakob’s 10 heuristics. Image by Dall-E.
I’ll start with myself: 10 Heuristics as Haiku. Short and sweet — slightly intellectually challenging! If you are a professor or instructor teaching UX, I recommend using these Haikus as classroom exercises. Show the two Haikus for a certain heuristic to your students and ask them to (a) guess which heuristic these Haikus represent, and (b) do a poetry analysis to explain why each Haiku represents that heuristic.
Chaitanya Gaddamwar’s rendition of the heuristics as memes is delightfully humorous: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/chaitanya8494_jakob-nielsens-10-usability-heuristics-ugcPost-7075073690337513474-oeAt/
1984.Design offers a version brimming with contemporary UI examples: https://www.1984.design/c/discussions/usability-heuristics-for-user-interface-design
Design Uncut provides a handy pocket guide: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/design-uncut_heuristicevaluation-ugcPost-7069957457686536192-tK5w/
Ryan Kojansow presents striking icons and compelling examples: https://medium.com/@ryankojansow092/jakobs-nielsen-10-usability-heuristics-for-user-interface-design-evaluation-6bde91886149
Matthew Lau offers help for your memory in the form of visual mnemonics for the heuristics: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/visual-mnemonics-remember-10-usability-heuristics-ui-design-lau/
Kate Moran and Kelley Gordon have a workbook to keep your notes while doing heuristic evaluation: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-to-conduct-a-heuristic-evaluation/
Great concise summary of the heuristics in one small graphic by AIS SIGHCI: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/ais-sighci_jakob-nielsens-10-general-principles-for-activity-7080292407820328960-tyba
Jen Cardello explains how to use the heuristics as a scorecard of design quality, assessing top user workflows with a 0-4 rating for each heuristic. This quantitative approach allowed AthenaHealth to compare scores across different user roles and product areas, providing a detailed audit that served as a blueprint for improvement, and ultimately fostering a common language to discuss design at the operational levels of the organization https://medium.com/athenahealth-design/establishing-a-design-quality-metric-to-build-design-credibility-61236b8a4567
Loving Vicky Pirker’s application of the 10 heuristics to bathroom design (complete with photos): https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:7100839906767253504/
For our Spanish-speaking colleagues:
Hello User offers a comprehensive slideshow: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/hello_user_le-10-euristiche-dellusabilit%C3%A0-ugcPost-7074322334030995456-vkfc/ [Spanish]
Francisco Mujica presents a visually stunning poster: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-heur%25C3%25ADsticas-de-usabilidad-jakob-nielsen-posters-francisco-mujica-/ [Spanish]
Speaking of posters, if you are a true fan, there is a set of 11 posters, one for each heuristic, plus an overview: https://media.nngroup.com/media/articles/attachments/Jakob's10UsabilityHeuristics_AllPosters_5.zip [PDF download]
(If your version isn't listed here, please don't take it personally. I've been inundated with an array of brilliant 10-heuristics postings recently and it's been a challenge to keep up. I encourage you to create your own unique version and tag me when you post!)
10 Heuristics Infographic
Feel free to repost and use this infographic any way you want, as long as you reference this URL as the source: https://jakobnielsenphd.substack.com/p/the-10-usability-heuristics-reimagined
About the Author
Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D., is a usability pioneer with 40 years experience in UX and the Founder of UX Tigers. He founded the discount usability movement for fast and cheap iterative design, including heuristic evaluation and the 10 usability heuristics. He formulated the eponymous Jakob’s Law of the Internet User Experience. Named “the king of usability” by Internet Magazine, “the guru of Web page usability” by The New York Times, and “the next best thing to a true time machine” by USA Today. Previously, Dr. Nielsen was a Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer and a Member of Research Staff at Bell Communications Research, the branch of Bell Labs owned by the Regional Bell Operating Companies. He is the author of 8 books, including the best-selling Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity (published in 22 languages), Usability Engineering (26,415 citations in Google Scholar), and the pioneering Hypertext and Hypermedia (published two years before the Web launched). Dr. Nielsen holds 79 United States patents, mainly on making the Internet easier to use. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Human–Computer Interaction Practice from ACM SIGCHI.
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