Heuristic Evaluation - Gerhardt-Powals’ Cognitive Engineering Principles

Gerhardt-Powals’ Cognitive Engineering Principles

Although Nielsen is considered the expert and field leader in heuristics, Jill Gerhardt-Powals also developed a set of cognitive principles for enhancing computer performance. These heuristics, or principles, are similar to Nielsen’s heuristics but take a more holistic approach to evaluation. Gerhardt Powals’ principles are listed below.

  • Automate unwanted workload:
    • free cognitive resources for high-level tasks.
    • eliminate mental calculations, estimations, comparisons, and unnecessary thinking.
  • Reduce uncertainty:
    • display data in a manner that is clear and obvious.
  • Fuse data:
    • reduce cognitive load by bringing together lower level data into a higher-level summation.
  • Present new information with meaningful aids to interpretation:
    • use a familiar framework, making it easier to absorb.
    • use everyday terms, metaphors, etc.
  • Use names that are conceptually related to function:
    • Context-dependent.
    • Attempt to improve recall and recognition.
    • Group data in consistently meaningful ways to decrease search time.
  • Limit data-driven tasks:
    • Reduce the time spent assimilating raw data.
    • Make appropriate use of color and graphics.
  • Include in the displays only that information needed by the user at a given time.
  • Provide multiple coding of data when appropriate.
  • Practice judicious redundancy.

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