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Q: What's a Heuristic Online Text Evaluation?
A. An evaluation measures how well your text online meets the guidelines, or heuristics, we have compiled from research in usability, readability, attention, and design, and from experienced professionals in the field.
Q: What's the point of using an evaluation instrument?
A: You can determine the extent to which the text of your text makes sense to your visitors.
Q: Why evaluate the menus?
A: If people can succeed in using your menus, they will go to relevant content, and, who knows? They may buy your stuff, or vote for you. When your menu text is tangled, you may make them think you have nothing to offer, or you may send them to the wrong pages.
Q: How do we achieve meaningful menus?
A: We have many ways to test the text of menus. In general, though, we know that your menu will be easy to follow if:
Q: Why do you call these checklists a heuristic?
A: Each guideline provides a method for a writer to follow, or a heuristic. If the writer has followed the guidelines well, the text scores high.
Q: How do we perform the evaluation?
A: Here’s how to perform a Heuristic Online Text (HOT) evaluation.
1. Download and save the file with a name that includes
Examples: ibmmenusjp.doc, yahoomenusds.htm
2. Go to the site, and locate a fairly typical page that has a menu.
A menu is not running text, or links embedded in a sentence.
3. In the file, type the subject of the page, under Sample #1, below.
The subject appears in the title bar of the window (not including ads for your browser) or in the major heading at the top of the page. Use whichever best articulates what the page is about.
4. Copy the menu and paste it into this file after the subject.
5. Return to the page and copy the URL for that page, then paste that into this file, in the line right after the paragraph.
The URL is the address of the page.
6. Type today’s date on the next line, to show when you collected the sample.
7. Repeat this process, collecting menus from at least 5 pages.
If possible, find pages with different kinds of menus.
Tip: You may want to print out your samples, so you can look at their text on paper as you work onscreen.
8. Apply the HOT Evaluation to the text samples you have collected, filling out the evaluation form.
If a strategy or tactic seems irrelevant, omit it from your evaluation. Note that this will change the total possible points.
How to make your menus meaningful:
Resources on menus
Writing that Works!