Our team of 5 was tasked to systematically evaluate the user interface design for a website of our choosing by our instructor and create a Heuristic Analysis on the site. After some brief discussion, a team member recommended we evaluate her brother’s employer’s website, which had launched recently. The chosen site, tradeMONSTER.com, is a financial trading platform optimized for advanced traders and specialized for option trading.
Each team members evaluated the tradeMONSTER.com with Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Guidelines for User Interface Design as the criteria for the Heuristic Evaluation. Nielsen’s usability principles were used as a checklist of 31 points under 7 of the 10 criteria: Visibility of System Status, User Control and Freedom, Consistency and Standards, Recognition Rather than Recall, Aesthetic and Minimalist Design, Help, Documentation, Recovery from Errors, and Language. Evaluators graded the site on a rating of Poor, Good, and Excellent and statistical analysis was conducted on a numerical scale of 0, 1, and 2, respectively.
After reviewing tradeMONSTER’s website, a few things became evident. The newly released website passed Nielsen’s Heuristics with a rating of “Excellent”, mean average of 1.62 and a median of 2, but further review shows that the results were biased. There is no search function, and users have to scroll to find “About Us”, and “Contact”. I came to the conclusion that the bias was attributed to expert users evaluating the site under easy to moderate heuristics on a simple system.
Moving forward, a custom set of heuristics should be developed to coincide with skill set of evaluators to mitigate bias. Jakob Nielsen’s Heuristics were published in 2005 and have become outdated when evaluating complex sites and web applications.
I advised the weaknesses proposed in my Heuristic Evaluation should be corrected and the site should be re-evaluated by assigning expert users more advanced tasks; whereas, novice users should be assigned the evaluator role to assess easy to medium tasks. Site identity should be revisited because the colors and labeling eerily matches the look and feel of both E-Trade and ESPN.
Ultimately, I thought my document was very well thought out, precise, and effective. I clearly separated strengths and weaknesses with headings and organized the information collected by task. Fortunately, the experience of a 4 year business degree and Finance writing courses led me to receive glowing remarks from my professor below. Needless to say, the praise was justifiably needed after a long week of class and work.