Heuristic evaluation: Custom heuristics


Hi all,

So I was doing a heuristic evaluation a couple of days ago. I know people often use the heuristics recommended by Nielsen. However, these are just recommendations and are not set in stone. Are there people who define their own heuristics depending on their project? How do you construct these heuristics?

Please share your knowledge with me, I would love to learn from you :slight_smile:


Hi Rob! I’ve not ever defined my own comprehensive set, but I have picked and chosen from amongst the various existing ones in order to focus on a particular group of interactions or paradigms and cut out (lazy!) a bunch of questioning that wasn’t a good use of my time. Jill Gerhardt-Powals only has 9, and they’re much more holistic than Neilsen’s, so I often bury myself nicely in there too.

Susan Weinschenk’s & Dean Barker’s 20 heuristics are already an amalgamation (Neilsen’s, Microsoft’s and Apple’s, I think).

I like using the considered sets as doing a heuristic review is often for the purpose of identifying and measuring the issues for later attention in research, so a) something broad and comprehensive is just what I want, b) I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, and c) I’m not as smart as the people that came up with the existing ones.

But if I were wanting to come up with a unique set of heuristics for a product (without earning a doctorate), I’d be looking to base them on something like:

  • key principles from Weinschenk’s Neuro Web Design, Stafford & Webb’s Mind Hacks, or part II of Daniel Khaneman’s Thinking Fast & Slow
  • performance metrics related to the product goals
  • tracking areas of complexity that we want to simplify or explain better
  • known issues confronted by users in the product context
  • particular consistencies and performance in the design we wanted to keep


Thanks for the reply!
I actually saved a link to a blog post which talked about Weinschenk’s and Barker’s 20 heuristics but recently a new blog was written on the same URL :disappointed_relieved:
You’re right about reinventing the wheel. Additionally, it would take quite a lot of time.