Expert analysis and heuristic analysis: a usability check-up

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Among the many activities that I love most in the work of UX designer (difficult to find one that I am not passionate about) there are expert analysis and heuristic analysis.

Today we are talking about an important activity to prevent and identify the “seasonal ills” in the digital environment that concern usability. We are not talking about vaccines, but expert analysis and heuristic analysis.

How to identify “seasonal evils” in usability? With expert analysis and #UX heuristic analysis

Combine expert analysis and heuristic analysis without confusing them

More and more often we talk about expert analysis and heuristic analysis, confusing them and using these two terms as if they were synonyms of the same word. However, the two activities are quite distinct and incorporate different characteristics. Often they are juxtaposed because both are used to carry out complete check-ups on digital interfaces. For years, in TSW, these two research methods have been combined, adopting and exploiting the strengths and introspective abilities of both activities in order to identify the barriers and criticalities that prevent users from experiencing satisfactory user experiences.

Before explaining how the two activities are used, let’s start with a brief definition of the two types of analysis.

  • The expert analysis is a research method that involves the evaluation of a website and researches its critical points, ie those problems that hinder and prevent users from reaching the final goal.
  • The heuristic analysis is a study that seeks to identify the relevance and adherence to the heuristics declined by Nielsen and Molich still at the dawn of the web.


These two types of analysis are excellent for identifying the weaknesses and barriers that prevent people from interacting with websites when the direct involvement of users through usability tests is not possible or when one wants to analyze the micro-functionalities of a site / mobile app.

How to find out if there are barriers to the interaction of people with websites? #UX

Expert analysis and heuristic analysis: the doctor’s metaphor

To understand how the two activities combine and how they are used together in TSW we could make a comparison with the doctor’s work.

Usually the doctor prescribe medications or types of care (solutions) with the aim of treating the patient’s discomfort (in our case usability barriers, conversion problems, abandoned carts, etc.). The doctor, to fully understand what the best treatments are, can use blood tests (heuristic analysis) and diagnosis of symptoms (expert analysis).

Blood analysis provides specific data and informs the doctor if the values are normal. However, to find the cure, sometimes it is not enough to see what the wrong values ​​are. In our reality, therefore, it is not enough to understand where the good rules represented by heuristics are not respected. It is essential to have a complete picture of the symptomatology and therefore to look for the reasons why a user fails to complete some actions or fails to interact with certain features.

It is therefore essential to combine the data represented by the heuristic analysis with the data reported by the observation and the study of the site which immediately express what is not working and what prevents people from navigating a site satisfactorily.

5 things to do to understand what’s wrong with a site

So, to understand what’s wrong with a site, in the analysis phase (heuristic and expert) it is fundamental:

– recognize when the 10 usability heuristics are not respected;

– keep in mind the design patterns of operating systems in case of applications;

– respect the design guidelines;

– comply with the standards adopted and recognized internationally by users to understand if the site design is relevant to the world of the web and user expectations;

– understand what is not working and why, going to explore the reason for the misalignment between action and expectations.


5 things to do to understand what’s wrong with a site thanks to the #UX usability heuristics

The expert analysis and the heuristic analysis, combined together give a very useful type of analysis to understand in a short time and without the possibility of user involvement what does not work in a site.

Want to know how your site is and need a check-up? Don’t wait, contact us because prevention is better than cure.

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30 March 2016 Christian Caldato

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TAG: usability test experience design user testing