8 Usability Heuristics (Explained With Toasters)

Nov 24, 2022

Today I even have something really fun planned; we’re going to be a toaster in so way more detail than you’ve ever checked out a toaster before! 

In doing so we’re going to go over 8 usability heuristics (in other words principles or rules) which can be on the centre of fine UX and interactivity design.

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Before we dive in let me quickly let you know about Envato Elements; a library of creative assets all able to use with easy industrial licensing. You’ll get unlimited access to UI kits, web templates, fonts, and other useful stuff for any designer.

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8 Usability Heuristics

These usability heuristics were famously proposed by Jakob Nielsen almost 30 years ago. Let’s evaluate a toaster against these interaction principles and see the way it fares.

1. Visibility of Status

That is all about keeping the user informed about what’s occurring, in a transparent and timely manner. Within the case of this toaster, what might a user care about? They’d likely need to know whether the toast is definitely toasting, and perhaps when it’s going to be done.

We will see, after we press the lever down, that it stays down and that the coils throughout the toaster glow orange and start to heat up.

glowing coilsglowing coilsglowing coils

By way of addressing “when will the toast be done?” this toaster doesn’t actually do too well. Some models have a dial which works like a timer, going back to zero as time goes by, showing the user how much time is remaining. This attention to detail in interactive design can vastly improve the user experience.

2. System vs. Real World

Often that is talked about when it comes to user interfaces, where we’re not actually talking a few physical product, but describing things in a design which mimic the physical world. A button, for instance, which appears to be raised, as if it will possibly be depressed.

We will actually discuss a few facets of our toaster’s interactive design to which this is applicable. For instance, after we press the lever down, the bread drops down with it, mimicking our movement.

depressing the lever on the toasterdepressing the lever on the toasterdepressing the lever on the toaster

3. User Control and Freedom

People often do things by mistake, so it’s essential that the design allows users to undo an motion or back out of something that’s unwanted or unintended. My toaster gets an A+ on this category because it has a cancel button, super clear, right where you‘d anticipate finding it. So if I resolve I’d prefer to make use of a distinct type of bread, or I need to finish the method early, I can.

cancel buttoncancel buttoncancel button

4. Consistency and Standards

People shouldn’t should learn something latest if it’s not absolutely obligatory, so good UX follows industry and platform standards and doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel.

My toaster follows standards rather well, but this one..not a lot:

non-standard toaster uxnon-standard toaster uxnon-standard toaster ux

While the touch screen could appear cool at first, it’s likely less user-friendly. Users aren’t accustomed to interfacing with a touch screen within the context of toasting bread. I’ve used a toaster like this before and I remember I wasn’t searching for this tiny little start button—it took me a protracted time to determine the right way to use it!

5. Error Prevention

Have you ever ever put your bread in a toaster, pushed down the lever, only to have it pop right back up? And nevertheless? It probably didn’t take you very long to work out why: the toaster wasn’t plugged in! As an alternative of allowing you to walk away, considering that your bread was toasting, the machine is designed to not allow you to do this, helping you avoid such a time-waisting error.

6. Recognition Reasonably Than Recall

Users shouldn’t should remember something from one a part of an interface to a different. Clearly labelled buttons really help with this, and my toaster chooses descriptive labels moderately than cryptic icons to point out users what’s occurring.

clear labelsclear labelsclear labels

7. Flexibility and Efficiency of Use

It is a big one. No two persons are the identical, so it’s essential that designs are flexible and permit for personalisation and personalization. This is essential for toasters because everyone has their very own preference for the way dark they like their bread toasted.

If I asked you to have a look at this dial and describe what number of options users have for determining how dark they’d like their toast you’d probably say “seven”. But there’s actually infinite decisions on offer here! The dial doesn’t just click from 3, to 4, to five—you may set it in the center, or simply a hair past an entire number should you so select. The choices are countless, and this really matters! A win for the flexible dial.

labels on the diallabels on the diallabels on the dial

8. Aesthetic and Minimalistic Design

Okay, last one. Good user interfaces don’t contain information that’s irrelevant or rarely needed. They prioritize the essential, showing only what’s needed to assist the user achieve their goal. That is the very definition of minimalistic design.

This toaster’s great since it’s fairly easy. We’ve got extra options for bagel, defrost, and reheat. For my part reheat may not be totally obligatory, but perhaps some users need it.

The toaster shown below, nevertheless, goes a bit overboard. It has options for bread, bagel, waffle, English muffin, pastry.. For my part that is an example of an excessive amount of, and will overwhelm the user.

too many optionstoo many optionstoo many options

Toast’s Done!

That’s it for our usability evaluation of this toaster, overall I give it an A minus. I actually hope I even have given you a very good baseline understanding of those 8 usability heuristics, don’t forget to ascertain out Envato Elements and subscribe to the Tuts+ Youtube channel!

More UX Fundamentals

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