Ten Usability Heuristics

Jakob Nielsen writes about the 10 Usability Heuristics for UI Design. These are rules of thumb, which most often (but not always) hold true:

  1. System status should always be visible.
  2. The system should use the same words as the users.
  3. All actions should have easy “I did not want to do that” functions like undo.
  4. The system should adhere to standards and be consistent in its presentation.
  5. The system should avoid erroneous states with constraints and useful defaults.
  6. Make actions, elements and options visible to replace recall with recognition.
  7. Frequent actions should be personalisable.
  8. Reduce the interface to required information; form follows function.
  9. Support users in detecting, diagnosing and recovering from errors.
  10. Provide useful, searchable help.

The heuristics have persisted since 1996, that is, the time back when interface design was mostly clunky and grey; even several revisions have kept them mostly intact. I guess there seems to be something to them if they survive that long.