10 Usability Heuristics Applied to Complex Applications

Summary: Nielsen’s 10 usability heuristics can be used to analyze the UX of applications that support domain-specific, complex workflows.

Jakob Nielsen’s 10 usability heuristics for user-interface design have been widely used as broad rules of thumb for guiding design decisions since their original introduction in 1994. These 10 heuristics provide sound guidance for practitioners working on complex, domain-specific applications, in the same way as they apply to most other forms of interactions, from video games to VR apps . (The reason being that the usability heuristics are very general, as implied by the very word “heuristic.”)

We’ve previously defined a complex application as any application supporting the broad, unstructured goals or nonlinear workflows of highly trained users in specialized domains. Enterprise applications, applications supporting complex data analysis and modeling, and systems supporting high-impact or high-value decision making fall into this category. In this article, we provide examples of how each heuristic applies to complex applications like these.

#1: Visibility of System Status

The design should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within a reasonable amount of time.

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