Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Communicating web 2.0 through design

Teaching users to use Web 2.0 gagets ...

"The rise of ‘web 2.0′ has brought with it a slew of new interaction styles and concepts, most of which give the web some magical powers it never had before, making it a significantly more powerful platform for application development. But RSS, tagging, drag-and-drop, slide transitions, and many other new paradigms are unfamiliar to web audiences, who have been trained for years that the web has severely limited capabilities compared with the desktop.

So how do we teach our users to use all these fancy new gadgets? We do it through the magic of instructive design. Let’s take a look at how some simple design elements can be used to communicate the value of these new interactions and get our users moving forward quickly.

Instructive design
Instructive design is the use of design elements to help users climb over the learning curve in a web application (or anything else for that matter). This includes very typical elements such as text, graphics, and video, but in this case, it’s not about what you use, it’s about how you use it.

The goal of instructive design is to teach users about an interaction as effectively and efficiently as possible, without getting in the way of the experienced users who already ‘get it’. Many tricks can be used to accomplish this goal, the most common of which is plain ol’ text. Later, I’ll discuss how to handle the more complicated stuff, but first a glimpse into the basics.

The Basics: Plain ol’ Text
You know those paragraphs of instructions you often see at the top of an application screen? Hardly anyone actually reads them. This happens because they’re focused on doing, not reading, and users tend to completely avoid text when using web applications. But the problem goes much further than long blocks of instructions. In a recent usability session, ten out of ten users looked right past a prominently-displayed Help button, choosing instead to ’satisfice’ their way through the tasks they were asked to perform. One user, in fact, said out loud that she wished there was some sort of Help documentation available.

If text is used well, however, it can be your saving grace. You just need to follow a few simple rules, all of which are shown in this example from Squidoo."    (Continued via Vitamin Features)    [Usability Resources]

Instructive Text - Usability, User Interface Design

Instructive Text

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