Heuristic Evaluation of Persuasive Health Technologies

Persuasive technologies for promoting physical fitness, good nutrition, and other healthy behaviors have been growing in popularity. Despite their appeal, the evaluation of these technologies remains a challenge and typically requires a fully functional prototype and long-term deployment. In this project, we attempt to help bridge this gap by presenting a method for using heuristic evaluation to evaluate persuasive technologies. We developed a set of 10 heuristics intended to find problems in persuasive technologies that would affect persuasive elements, adoption, or long-term effectiveness of the technologies. We compared the performance of Nielsen's heuristics to our heuristics on two persuasive technologies using 10 different evaluators. Using our heuristics, evaluators found more severe problems more frequently. In addition, the issues that found only by our heuristics were more severe and more relevant to persuasive, cultural, and informational issues of the interfaces evaluated. Our method can be helpful in finding problems in persuasive technologies for promoting healthy behaviors earlier in the design process.
We used two different persuasive health apps: Mindbloom.com (left, center) and MyPyramid BlastOff! game (right) as tests for our evaluation.


Brennen Birch
Eun Kyoung Choe
Mandy Fonville
Chelsey Glasson
Julie A. Kientz
Robert Maharaj
Jen Mundt


Heuristic Evaluation of Persuasive Health Technologies
Julie A. Kientz, Eun Kyoung Choe, Brennen Birch, Robert Maharaj, Mandy Fonville, Chelsey Glasson and Jen Mundt
ACM International Health Informatics Symposium, 2010. Full Paper (PDF)