A3 – SCORE is the worst…

Individual Evaluations




Most severe problems:

  • Login process – there are a variety of errors and options which can lead to dead-ends and complicated error messages from the system.  Most severe is the issue which tells the user that they are not authorized to login, and provides no exit from the page.  Error messages tend to be cryptic and unrelated to the actual error committed by the user.
  • Navigation issues – design hierarchy is frequently unclear, some features are very difficult to find (quintile rank). The layout is often misleading; for example, some academic features are not in the “My Academics” section.
  • Many problems involved a design that was neither aesthetic nor minimalist (H8). In order to fix these problems, SCORE designers should eliminate all non-essential menus, and streamline the page to be one top menu (easily hidden), and one layout panel that could display as a list, icons, etc., just like a file browser.

Problems made more apparent by list of Nielsen’s Heuristics:

  • Issues with being able to move back to a real main menu – made more apparent by H3.  Without this heuristic, a tester might not have thought to attempt an accidental navigation mistake that requires correction.
  • Issues with dismissing modals was made clear with H2-4. Most modals on the internet have an “X” button in the top right corner to dismiss it. In Score, you can only dismiss a modal by interacting with its contents.
  • H-9 Vague error messages, often with no way to go back
    • Some error messages offer multiple possible reasons for the error
    • Many times, there is no “Return to Home” button to allow the user to continue using the software normally.  Even when there is, the labeling is unclear and often leads the user to a menu other than the one they intended to navigate to.

Problems not listed under Neilsen’s Heuristics:

  • Good choice of general categories for navigation – for example, the user task of viewing an unofficial transcript could possibly fit under several menu options: “Academic Requirements”, “Course History”, “Grades”, or “View My Academic Record.”  Choosing good menu headings is essential to the design, as it enables simple navigation by the user.

Useful class discussion questions related to heuristic evaluation

  • Which heuristics seem the most important to user experience?
    • H-9 could be one possible answer – if the user cannot recover from an error, than it would cripple the usability of the product.
    • However, with respect to usability, H-3 appears especially important.  Having a muddled interface which is difficult to navigate will have a major negative effect on the user’s ability to benefit from the product.
  • Which heuristics are the easiest to violate?
    • H-7 could be very easily violated as more features are built.
    • H-10 could be violated frequently because it is easy to forgot to make a “help” page.
    • H-4 is very easy to violate, especially if there is a large product team.  Maintaining a consistent interface with unchanging standards can be quite difficult.
  • Which heuristic violations are the hardest to catch?
    • Anything involving errors, such as H-5. Some errors are very difficult to catch.  Along those lines, H-9 is difficult because the developers can have trouble predicting the errors a user will face.  Even after product testing, it is hard to predict what might go wrong, making it difficult to assist the user in those situations.