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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Help users? Get game!

There is a specific sequence for most web based transactions. The step by step process is sometimes outlined in the user manual or FAQ. Most writing like this still makes some assumptions about the user; where he/she is starting from, what they know or are familiar with, etc. Sometimes, the instructions "take for granted" circumstances that for the newbie can be quite out of reach but for the relatively experienced person are "second nature".

How do we (technologists) get around this to ensure a good experience for our user community?

There are user forums, "dummies guide to" series, and frequently, the helpful mentor to provide some extra hand-holding for the newbie as they get started. Nothing wrong with this, they all work. But for the newbie that can't find or is truly a newbie, the forum is not really an option. The book may be too expensive or not readily available. The mentor/friend not easily identified. Who walks around with a sign saying they are a friend and personal helper for XYZ Service?

Another option would be to spend more time in the development stage to design into the application the look and feel that would make how to use the tool intuitive. For example, take a designer or two from the online game community and bring them into the business application development environment. How many games have you seen that required instruction books? Yes, some games have forums for cheat codes, but that doesn't count. As general rule, the game experience is more intuitive than most applications, hence these applications could help their users by being more game like.

For the users!
Get game!

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