top of page

What is Heuristic Evaluation?

How I Conducted Heuristic Evaluation

In Heuristic Evaluation, an application or site is reviewed by experts and its compliance to heuristics (globally defined and accepted standards of good user experience) is assessed. Aspects that violate these principles are recorded, reported, and recommendations are provided.

As UX expert, I have thoroughly evaluated layouts, and general characteristics of the onboarding kiosk for a major airline. Jacob Nielsen’s heuristics was used to evaluate the UX.

Reporting Issues

For each Heuristic Evaluation initiative, we prepared an exhaustive report that captured the screens, identified the issues categorised as showstopper, major, and minor issues along with the applicable heuristic(s)


To perform a heuristic evaluation on the current kiosk flows from user experience standpoint and provide recommendations for improvement to design the ‘GenSuper-Kiosk’

User Segment

I have divided user segment in two segments: Domestic Traveller and International Traveller(with no checked in bag and not checked in PNR)

Target Users and User Flow

Passengers travelling on international flights(with no checked in bag and not checked in PNR)

Evaluation Methodology

In heuristic evaluation, the current kiosk screens were reviewed by experts and its compliance to heuristics (generally accepted standards of a good user experience) was assessed. Aspects that violate these principles were recorded, reported, and recommendations were provided

How We Report Issues / Example

Although scoring is used to evaluate each heuristic but as per client’s request we used a different approach to scoring by preparing an exhaustive report that captured the screen, identified the issues categorised as showstopper, major, and minor along with the applicable heuristic(s)

Showstopper: Catastrophic issues that prevent people from accomplishing their goals

Major Issue: Issues that cause waste of time, increased learning and error rates

Irritant: Minor cosmetic or consistency issues that slow users down slightly/ are minimal violation of usability guidelines

Key Insight (As-is)
Information Architecture
  • Application lacked a simple, easy-to-understand, and logical Information Architecture

  • Primary and secondary menus lacked action orientation, organized information flows, and intuitiveness

  • It was not clear what the starting point and end point for each workflow was. There was no clear demarcation between workflows

  • Information Architecture did not clearly show the workflows and means to access them logically

  • Information grouping was weak, leading users to spend more time in looking for required information

Navigation and Structure
  • Overall, the kiosk had considerable number of major issues that related to navigation and layout of the screens

  • Navigation lacked intuitiveness. Navigation levels were not clearly identified and not designed as per the usability principles

  • Too many clicks, redundant controls and action buttons usage were inconsistent

  • Application didn’t keep the user informed about what was going to appear next; it surprised them and didn’t give them the control to navigate through the steps

  • The model should closely align with the user’s expectations and not forced to go through all the steps

Layout and Visual Design
  • There were no clear visual cues to help users' complete actions or navigate seamlessly across the application

  • Overall, design had inconsistent aesthetics and visual treatment

  • Mostly unclear visual hierarchy and cues for content and UI elements

  • There was inconsistency in the usage of buttons and icons that increased cognitive load

  • There were white spaces on some screens where the layout could be redesigned

Content and Labels
  • There were too many sections, subsections, and fields a user needed to complete to finish one task. This impeded user’s focus and less clear understanding of progress to complete the task

  • Content was not categorized which a user found difficult to understand easily

  • Verbiage needed improvement in body text and buttons

  • Verbiage needed to address what was mentioned and what steps that the user could take

  • Landing screen should have given information on what all activities a user can achieve using the kiosk

User Flow

We evaluated user flow for both domestic and international passengers with and without luggage. For portfolio purpose I am considering only one scenario i.e International ORD to LHR, with no checked bag, not checked in PNR.

Detailed Evaluation
a) Home Page

Recognition rather than recall

‘No boarding pass?’ is the heading with 2 check-in options, Tap to check-in button and ”or scan your…” are given. The second option does not clearly offer a visible way to check-in like the first option and users might skip the information.

Help and documentation

The placement of the question mark is not specific to the task at hand. This will create confusion to the users. Is the question mark addressed to United card and MileagePlus card only? Or is it a help for the entire section of insert your card?

Recognition rather than recall

The home page mostly speaks about scanning process to proceed and misses to show the users the various services it can provide like check bags, upgrade the flight etc.

  • Provide a clear way for the user to understand how they can check-in with second option credit/debit card, passport, etc

  • If purpose of information icon is for other options for check-in, do not place icon directly to a specific option so that user doesn’t mistake the intention of the information

  • Provide more context to the user on homepage as to what they can do at the kiosk

b) Input Page

Recognition rather than recall


The information present below (You can also scan your boarding document, passport or MileagePlus card or swipe a credit card) is not visible to the user and maybe skipped as there are two things a user can do in this stage.

  • Better representation of alternate action along with CTA for the same would allow the user to switch and opt the alternate way to access the kiosk

c) Select Bid

Inconsistency of icon followed by text

Language ; terms & conditions have icons to the left followed by text, whereas text is followed by icon in case of ‘Exit’

Inconsistency of time format used

Spacing between time and anti meridiem/post meridiem is not given in the header but that spacing is given in the body

User control and freedom

Back button is missing and restricts the user. Users often perform actions by mistake and this needs a clearly marked “exit” to leave the unwanted action without having to go through an extended process.

Visibility of system status

There is no information about current flight in this page

Match between system and real world

The bidding process is confusing. In the real world, bidding usually means offering of price for something, especially at an auction. But here, bidding means the compensation user can receive. “Lowest bids will be considered first” that should be clear and highlighted.

  • Keep same order of icon and text consistent throughout the application

  • Keep same spacing for time format throughout application to maintain consistency

  • Provide a back button for user to go back to previous page in case they want to make changes or reread information

  • Provide context about current flight that is being referenced on the voucher page

d) Select Seat

Visibility of system status

The cards maybe mistaken for interactive cards to select the right choice of seat.

Flexibility and efficiency of use

User has to click on the seat map to select the seat, and there is a loading screen in between which causes disconnect in the flow.

Consistency and standards

User can't see which seats are assigned upfront, as the marking is very small, and the user has to strain their eyes to see it.

  • UI design of the cards should be in such a manner that it should not create a confusion whether it is clickable or not

  • Provide a way for user to zoom in/zoom out seamlessly to view seating details so that it is easier for user to make a seating choice decision

  • The selected seat should be visible clearly - size, contrast, color etc can be used to highlight selected seat and available seats

  • Provide a smooth transition between zooming out and zooming in

Recommendation for Better Usability

Boarding a flight is an anxiety inducing process for many. Therefore, at every stage of the process, the design should provide a feeling of reassurance to the user that everything is going according to the plan and should alert them if anything is missing.

User Control and freedom

  • In the current design, everything is in a linear flow, but users may need to change what they have selected earlier. At any stage of the check-in process, there should be an option to navigate to cross-check or change data

  • If anything gets confusing, users should have the option to start over completely and also have the freedom to go a step back

  • There are a lot of services which users are performing at the Kiosk and there should be a way for the user to switch to various services/look at the flow of services and see the progress (overall view of what is completed and what needs to be done)

Visibility of system status

  • Clear indication of ‘changed state’ in the process indicating what things are completed, what is pending etc. needs to be highlighted as customer goes through the kiosk prompts (ex. checklists, steppers etc)

  • Since airline ticket has many aspects like ticket, boarding pass, bag tag etc, all updated information should be available at a glance at key points

  • Users may forget details like which seat they are assigned to / departure time during check in process or indicators of potential outcomes can be shown upfront, it may relieve the anxiety of travellers

  • If the hardware of the kiosk is more responsive, it will provide a much smoother experience as the user gets feedback immediately

Recognition rather than recall

  • People who have never used a kiosk may prefer to get things done at the counter. In order to attract them to the kiosk, a kiosk should make it explicit as to what services it can provide. Someone standing at the front of a kiosk should know what all services it offers like check in, bag tag printing, upgrade, offers etc. Maybe changing screen savers which includes the services the kiosk offers may help

Efficiency of use

  • There are multiple payment scenarios. If all of it can be paid at once (ex. a cart in online shopping) it can help user save time. It also gives the users a clear understanding of the offers by the airline

Help and documentation

  • The purpose of a kiosk is to assist the users in travelling, and this assistance can include FAQ, clearing their doubts, explaining the procedures etc

bottom of page