Heuristic Evaluation (i)

21 Jan

The evaluation was done with another Android application developer, so he had somewhat expert knowledge of the platform, as well as of HCI principles. The process took around one hour and was very successful – multiple potential problems were flagged up as not adhering to Nielsen’s 10 principles of heuristic evaluation, and over the course of the following week they were fixed. A subsequent HE with another developer produced far fewer issues (see later post).

The detailed results are as follows:

Feedback

Settings menu problem – changing a setting gave no feedback. Solution – Toast notification on change.

Data update report problem – on pressing refresh, the app would Toast notify “no new data” if this was the server’s response, which the expert felt to be insufficient information. Solution – append “time until next update: x minutes” to the notification.

Visibility

Time display problem – expert believed it to be the current time (i.e. a clock), in fact it was the time that the data was last updated. Solution – prepend “Last Updated” to the time display.

Metaphor

A problem with the humidity icon resulting  in the expert miss-identifying it as corresponding to rain was resolved by overlaying the percent symbol on the droplet:

raindrophumidity

Navigation

The expert was impressed with the simplicity of navigation and the ability to cancel operations if not desired – especially true on the map screen where the dialogs were “concise and helpful”.

Consistency

The user was pleased to note that the back button had not been remapped and that the settings screen followed the standard Android layout. An issue with colours for the same thing changing on different screens was spotted and quickly fixed.

Error prevention, recognition and recovery

My expert failed to find any issues with this. The app naturally doesn’t allow errors.

Recognition not recall

Fog icon problem – expert did not recognise the icon as corresponding to fog. Solution – rework the design to make it clear:

oldFog newFog

Flexible use

Gestures (left/right swiping) were in place to change the weather variable quickly and efficiently, but it was not wrapping around (once the last variable was reached, it was necessary to swipe the other way to go back to the start). This resulted in frustration of the expert as he demanded a more efficient means. Solution – implement a wrap around system.

Minimalism/Aesthetic

My expert praised the aesthetic of the app -“good use of images” – i.e. more concise, clear and language-compatible rather than having lots of cluttersome text.

device-2013-01-21-191828

Help and Documentation

Whilst a good amount of documentation existed, I had to explain to the expert that the tiles on the screen were arranged by lat/lng, rather than alphabetically. Solution: prominently display this fact in the help pages.

Overall, the process was very useful and brought real, significant improvements to the useabilty of my app.

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