Assigned to examine a publicly available website and measure it against the 10 usability heuristics that Jakob Nielsen established, I chose to explore Toys ‘R’ Us.
For my initial evaluation, I used the scenario of shopping for a gift for a baby shower. With the heuristics on my mind, I was able to find many examples, some that upheld Mr. Nielsen’s rules and several that violated them.
The following screenshot depicts a screen that is violating the heuristic “Consistency and Standards” because the phrase “What’s New” is displayed six times and confuses the user about whether it is a category or a title, and makes navigation equally confusing (ie, “How can I go back to What’s New if I’m already on the What’s New page?”).
A screenshot from my initial report
I documented my findings in a Heuristics Evaluation report. I structured the report as a story of my experience as a user of the site shopping for a shower gift, and detailed the heuristics I noticed along the way and whether they were upheld or violated, including screenshots as illustrations.
An excerpt from the report
Later, I developed my findings from the report into a light-hearted Lightning Talk which focused on a similar scenario but with the added pressure of shopping for toys in the holiday season. It was an excellent challenge to deliver all of my thoughts within a precise 5 minute time limit and required much practice.
An excerpt from the lightning talk deck
These two assignments gave me a solid introduction to usability standards and I now find myself identifying them everywhere, particularly when there is a major violation.