Heuristics for Product Development

Daniel Benitez

Daniel Benítez

29 May, 2024

Heuristicas Desarrollo Producto

In software development, usability is crucial for the success of a product. Applying usability heuristics can significantly enhance the user experience, resulting in a more efficient product that stands out in its niche. Here, we explain how to do this, following the principles developed by Nielsen Norman Group, in a clear and straightforward manner by just giving you a quick description and a clear example of each heuristic applied in real life products that we use everyday.

What are usability heuristics and why are they important?

Usability heuristics are general rules that guide the design and evaluation of user interfaces. They are important because they help identify usability issues early on, improving user satisfaction and reducing future correction costs for new products.

1. Visibility of System Status: Keep users informed about what is happening with appropriate feedback.

e.g. When you send a message on WhatsApp and see a small "sent" or "delivered" indicator next to it, you are witnessing system status visibility in action. It informs you about the status of your message, providing reassurance and confidence that it has been delivered correctly.

2. Match Between System and the Real World: Use concepts and terminology familiar to the product's users.

e.g. Google Calendar’s user interface is an excellent example of this. It uses calendar icons, like a box with a number to represent a day and arrows to navigate between months, which are concepts familiar to any user who has used a paper calendar.

3. User Control and Freedom: Allow users to easily undo and redo actions.

In the Spotify app, you can easily undo adding a song to a playlist by simply pressing "Remove from this playlist" after performing the action or by swiping left. This gives users a sense of control over their actions and the freedom to change their minds without consequences.

4. Consistency and Standards: Follow platform conventions to avoid confusion.

e.g. The consistency in the design of Microsoft Office applications, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, is evident in the placement and appearance of common buttons and commands. This makes it easy for users to find and use similar functions across different programs, as they follow a coherent standard.

5. Error Prevention: Design the system to prevent errors before they occur.

e.g. Gmail prevents errors by warning you before sending an email without attachments if you have mentioned this in the email body. If you try to send an email without attachments, Gmail displays a warning to ensure you really want to send the email without documents, helping you avoid mistakes.

6. Recognition Rather Than Recall: Keep options visible to reduce the user's memory load.

On Amazon’s homepage, recently viewed products are automatically displayed in the "Recently Viewed" section. This eliminates the need for users to remember which products they were interested in and makes it easy to return to them with a single click.

7. Flexibility and Efficiency of Use: Offer shortcuts for advanced users.

The keyboard shortcut feature in Photoshop allows advanced users to perform common photo editing actions quickly and efficiently without using the mouse. For example, pressing "Ctrl + T" opens the transform tool, streamlining the workflow for advanced users.

8. Aesthetic and Minimalist Design: Keep the design simple and free of unnecessary information.

The minimalist design of Apple’s homepage is an example of how less is more. It features only a few highlighted products on a clean background, allowing the products to be the focus without unnecessary distractions.

9. Help Users Recognize, Diagnose, and Recover from Errors: Use clear and understandable error messages.

When you try to log in to WeTransfer with an incorrect password, instead of simply displaying a generic error message, the platform guides you by offering suggestions to solve the problem.

10. Help and Documentation: Provide easily searchable, task-oriented documentation.

In the Duolingo mobile app, you can easily find help and documentation in the form of interactive lessons, detailed explanations, and discussion forums where users can ask questions and get answers from other users and language experts.


Usability principles aim to facilitate the integration of technology into our daily activities by developing easy-to-use products that generate greater satisfaction, allow tasks to be completed faster, reduce errors, and prevent issues that could negatively impact the business.

It is crucial to consider these principles from the early stages of product development to establish a solid foundation. However, it is equally important to continue improving the product over time. As users change their habits and interactions, constant evaluation is necessary to ensure the tool adapts to the users' needs, not the other way around.

At Laravel42, we believe these principles should be implemented and adapted for each tool. We can make small improvements that have a significant impact on the product's functionality and success, ensuring it evolves along with its users.