Suggested heuristics for Personal organisers, and applications.

Visibility of system status

Is status feedback provided continuously (eg progress indicators or messages)?
Are warning messages displayed for long enough?

Match between system and real world

Are the words, phrases and concepts used familiar to the user?
Does the task sequence parallel the user's work processes?
Is information presented in a simple, natural and logical order?
Is the use of metaphors easily understandable by the user?

User control and freedom

Are facilities provided to "undo" (or "cancel") and "redo" actions?
Are there clearly marked exits (for when the user finds themselves somewhere unexpected)?
Are facilities provided to return to the top level at any stage?

Consistency and standards

Is the use of terminology, controls, graphics and menus consistent throughout the system?
Is there a consistent look and feel to the system interface?
Have ambiguous phrases/actions been avoided?

Error prevention

Is a selection method provided (eg from a list) as an alternative to direct entry of information?
Is user confirmation required before carrying out a potentially 'dangerous' action (eg deleting something)?
Does the device ensure work (eg new address book entry) is not lost either by user or system error?
Are the options given in dialog boxes obvious?

Recognition rather than recall

Are help and instructions visible or easily accessible when needed?
Is the relationship between controls and their actions obvious?
Are input formats (eg dates or lengths of names) indicated?
Is the functionality of novel device controls (eg thumbwheels) obvious?

Flexibility and efficiency of use

Does the device allow for a range of user expertise?
Does the device guide novice users sufficiently?
Is it possible for expert users to use shortcuts and to tailor frequent actions?
Is it possible to access and re-use a recent history of instructions (eg access a document)?
Does the device allow for a range of user goals (eg diary, notepad, text messaging) and interaction styles?

Aesthetic and minimalist design

Is the design simple, intuitive, easy to learn and pleasing?
Is the device free from irrelevant, unnecessary and distracting information?
Are icons clear and buttons labelled and is the use of graphic controls obvious?
Is the number of applications provided appropriate (and has 'featuritis' been avoided)?

Help users recover from errors

Do error messages describe problems sufficiently, assist in their diagnosis and suggest ways of recovery in a constructive way?

Help and documentation

Is help clear and direct and simply expressed in plain English, free from jargon and buzzwords?
Is help provided in a series of steps that can be easily followed?
Is it easy for the user to search, understand and apply help text?


Is navigational feedback provided (eg showing a user's current and initial states, where they've been and what options they have for where to go)?
Are any navigational aids provided (eg find facilities)?
Does the device track where the user was in the last session (and any progress made)?

Use of modes

Does the device use different modes appropriately and effectively?

Structure of information

Is there a hierarchical organisation of information from general to specific?
Are related pieces of information clustered together?
Is the length of a piece of text appropriate to the display size and interaction device?

Extraordinary users

Do the buttons allow for use by older, less agile fingers or people wearing gloves?
Do buttons give tactile feedback when selected?

You might like to print out this list for future reference and then return to the heuristics home page and choose another device.