Recently I had the honor and pleasure of working on a project for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop style guidelines for voting system documentation. Yawner, right? Not at all, it turns out. It made me think about where guidelines and heuristics come from for all kinds of design. Yes, if you live in the United States, you paid for me to find this out. Thank you.
What I learned in the process of developing style guidelines for voting system documentation (which, astonishingly took about a year) is that most heuristics — accepted principles — used in evaluating user interfaces come from three sources: Lore or folk wisdom, specialist experience, and research.