Expert Review

You can identify violations of good UX practice when our usability experts conduct an inspection of your site.

What is an expert review?

An expert review is an inspection of your interface to identify violations of good usability practice.
An expert review can be conducted by one UX expert. However, the validity of the findings increases when you add experts.

We recommend two or three experts in an expert review.

expert review
Expert review

Why is an expert review important?

An expert review uncovers issues in interface design that violate guidelines of user experience.

Fixing these identified issues provides a structured approach to improving your interface design.

How can an expert review help your business?

Good user experience is good for business. An expert review will identify issues that can adversely affect user experience. Eliminating barriers and roadblocks for users will increase user success and satisfaction.

An expert review will identify big problems–likely showstoppers–but it also identifies smaller problems that may irritate and impede users from reaching their goals.

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FAQ’s about Expert Reviews

Can an expert review replace usability testing?

Although an expert review can highlight potential issues for users, the experts who conduct the review are not your users. User experience is best understood by observing users engaged with your interface. When you conduct an expert review before usability testing, you have the chance to clean up the interface of identified issues and then conduct user testing to see what else you can learn from your users.

What’s the difference between a heuristic evaluation and an expert review?

There are no clear distinctions between these two ways of characterizing an inspection. Some practitioners use “expert review” to mean a review by a single expert and “heuristic evaluation” to mean a review by several experts. Other practitioners use heuristic evaluation to mean a review using a clearly defined set of heuristics, such as those by Nielsen. In contract, these practitioners would call the inspection an expert review when the heuristics are internalized through familiarity and practice.

We use the terms interchangeably to mean the same thing, and we adopt the methodology best suited to the client’s needs with regard to the choice of heuristics (or not) and the number of reviewers.

How many experts make for a good heuristic evaluation?

Nielsen, who is credited with combining the practices of a small set of evaluators for a heuristic evaluation and a small set of users for a usability test into a method called “discount” usability engineering, found that the maximum cost-benefit ratio for heuristic evaluation is achieved with 3-5 evaluators.

That’s a lot of experts! Most practitioners use fewer experts for reviews, with some doing reviews by a single expert. We advocate using 2-3 reviewers for effective results.


What’s the difference between an expert review and usability testing?

Usability testing provides feedback from users while they engage in typical tasks. Heuristic evaluation provides feedback from usability experts (who may or may not be domain experts), based on anticipated issues users will face.

Both tools are widely used, and both produce useful findings. So, one is not better than the other. However, they do produce different kinds of findings.

What is an example of an expert review?

expert review

Expert review (also called heuristic evaluation) is cited as one of the most used methods by user research practitioners.

Our client, a software company that had developed an online tax completion/filing application, was growing every year, but the development team was concerned about the analytics showing high numbers of prospective customers who abandoned the website before completing their tax filing.

They didn’t know why they lost potential customers, particularly young filers in their 20’s. They approached UX Firm to help them address the problem.

We recommended an expert review as a way to provide fast results they could address before tax season got into full swing. Two usability experts, working independently, reviewed the application, using the scenario of a married couple, filing jointly, both working, with two dependents, and a home. Each usability expert noted issues as well as positive aspects of engaging with the interface to complete the necessary forms.

The two experts then met to collate their findings and write their report. The report documented high-level and page-level issues that could impede the user’s progress. The report ranked these issues by severity and provided recommendations to fix the problems.

The client reported that the expert review highlighted some aspects of the interface they had not considered and confirmed some issues they knew might be problems for users but they hadn’t fixed. In other words, the review focused their fixes on known and new problems in a redesign of the application for the upcoming tax season.

Related Expert Review Resources

usability testing essentials

Usability Testing Essentials

Your resource for best practices in planning and conducting UX research, including expert reviews

Usability Testing Essentials 2nd edition

UX Toolkit (Part 1)

3 Popular UX Research Methods – Usability Testing, Card Sorting, Expert (Heuristic) Review

Your Users. Our Experience.