Of course, you're going to do usability testing for your site, your app, whatever you are developing. But what can you do even before you bring in representative site visitors to try out your prototype?

Asked that question, most people would say "a heuristic evaluation." Heuristics = principles of good design. A heuristic evaluation = assessing the site or app against a checklist of heuristics. You can find several lists of heuristics, including one that Dana Chisnell and I developed from research on older adults.

Even better than heuristics, however, is reviewing through your personas and the conversations they want to have with your web site.

A story: Getting developers to see their app through users' eyes

Some years ago, I was asked to review the screens for a new application. The client assumed I would do a heuristic evaluation, sitting at my desk, hundreds of miles away from the developers. I said, "that's not the way I work." I knew the developers wouldn't pay much attention to that type of review.