English Usability

Heuristic Evaluation of Target’s Website

Target retail outlets are one of the largest and most recognized discount retailers in the United States. I conducted an interesting heuristic evaluation of Target’s sales website regarding its ability to; display systems states, use familiar metaphors with language, promote user freedom,  stabilize its standards, prevent errors, set forth codes with previews or templates, be flexible with time efficiency, use beautiful minimalist aesthetics, clearly present problems and/or alternatives,  and display tutorial information. These points of testing interest are derived from Jakob Nielsen’s ten principles of heuristic evaluation and he also provided a useful scaling system of severity ratings; one being catastrophic flaw, 2 being a major problem, 3 being a minor problem, and 4 being a passive cosmetic flaw. Three participants of any age, profession, age, and technology experience were recruited through a screening application. I explained the purpose and great importance of each participant stating aloud feedback of critique or satisfaction throughout their evaluation.

Each participant was asked to fulfill four tasks to complete in chronological order. The first task was to scan the target site navigation graphic tabs to find the Nintendo 3DS game “Hyrule Warrior Legends”. Every participant completed this task and the average time of completion for this task was a mere forty five seconds, but could still be faster of course. The second task was to find what the game’s rating, theme, and possible warranty information. Every participant completed this task successfully too, but not without negative feedback. Every participant suggested there be a more blatant label for the warranty information, rather than the offsetting protect your purchase label (image above). I see fit to give this flaw a severity rating of three, being minor because of its still evident positioning to every evaluator.

The third task involved the act of each participant finding the nearest copy of the game in a target retail outlet. Every participant was able to complete the task successfully, but not without some good critique. When every customer noticed they could only exit the store finding window after using it, they suggested making the window capable of being minimized instead for further site surfing flexibility. I give this problem a major severity rating because of its potential to irritate many users in a rush trying to cross reference item locations through many windows.

The fourth task was for each participant to return to the target home page and find Hyrule Warrior Legends in the advanced word search tool, instead of the graphic click tab layout. Another good critique of the site emerged from participants one and two during the initial actions of the task. They did not like how the Target symbol in the top left corner of the window was the home button and they suggested the use of words on a tab to supplement or replace this characteristic. Every participant was able to successfully complete the task and I give this flaw a major severity rating because this could cause user frustration and/or extra inefficient movements that can lead them to rage quit.

Overall the study shows that each participant found the system very easy to use. Target sure has some good input from this slim study to improve their website upon. The limitations of using heuristic evaluation with only three participants, not utilizing user style analysis software, and in depth demographic screening methods prevent this study from producing viable statistic connections between participant styles of use with their performance/preferences through evaluation. Perhaps the fact that each participant was over the age of thirty could be connected to the points of critique each participant had in common. Perhaps the fact that participant one and two both prefer to shop in stores rather than online and had the least retail web use among evaluators is connected to the fact that they both disliked the symbol for the site home page from a lack of normative familiarity with similar designs. I’m very excited to see how new revolutionary methods and tools of analysis will be incorporated into studies like this in future days to come!