1. Visibility of system status-
The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.
2. Match between system and the real world-
The system should speak the users' language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than systemoriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.
3. User control and freedom-
Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked "emergency exit" to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.
4. Consistency and standards-
Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.
5. Error prevention-
Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place.
6. Recognition rather than recall-
Make objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.
7. Flexibility and efficiency of use-
Accelerators -- unseen by the-novice user -often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.
8. Aesthetic and minimalist design-
Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.
9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors-
Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.
10. Help and documentation-
Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation.
To supplement Neilson's (1994) 10 heuristic evaluation components, another set of criterion can be applied to each of the tools. Clark (1998) suggests four alternative fundamental concepts (architectures) about instructional design for authoring tools. The architecture of the tools should embody different assumptions about how learning happens, the role of the instructor or instruction and the final goal of the instruction.
Receptive: A good metaphor of this architecture is that the learner is a sponge, and the instruction pours out knowledge that the sponge absorbs. Learns typically have little control over the information, its sequence, its level of detail, or its rate of delivery.
Directive: The instruction sequences and chunks the knowledge and provides frequent opportunities for the learners to respond. Their response brings immediate corrective feedback.
Guided Discovery: The instruction provides learners with problems, adapted from the actual work setting. The tool role is like that of a coach and facilitator helping learners to obtain the knowledge and skills they need to solve the problems.
Exploratory: There is maximum leanrner control, learners are provided a rich, networked database of information, examples, demonstrations and exercises. From this database they can select whatever is appropriate to their current needs and mental models.
Nielsen, J. 1994 Heuristic Evaluation. in Nielsen, J. and Mack, R.L. (Eds) , Usability Inspection Methods, John Wiley & sons, N.Y.
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