Scanning the toy aisles for Jakob Nielsen’s Heuristics

Exploring Jakob Nielsen's 10 Heuristics for User Interface Design in coursework for UX Design and Interactive Strategy.

ClientIMMT, Centennial College
DateDecember 2016


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?”).

Sample of repeated content

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.

Excerpt from heuristics lightning talk.

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.