Thursday, January 17, 2008

Evolve Your User Interface To Educate Your Users

Using your interface to teach the user ...

"The Web has changed. This isn’t your neighbor’s nerdy kid’s internet anymore. Now the Web is home to your mom, your grandma and your technophobe sister. With computers as common a household appliance as televisions now, who might be using your web-application has expanded beyond the realm of just the power user.

Complicated menu systems, alert dialog messages that lock you out of the browser and flashy but confusing layouts aren’t necessarily going to help you make conversions. The Web user demographic has changed and to make your web application appeal to the masses your user interface needs to teach and to guide.
User Interfaces Should Teach

User interfaces need to teach your user how to use your application without resorting to a help screen. Many developers think that a help section will suffice for teaching users how to operate most any application, but this is not the case.

The help section of most applications, Web-based or otherwise, end up being used by the power users who are already trying to figure out every nook and cranny of the application. The proper way to help users understand how your application works is to bring the help section to them and in a format that can easily be understood.

In-line tips and interface descriptions work as an excellent introduction to the interface and how it operates. By providing your user with assistive instruction aside the interaction, it is easier for the user to relate the instruction with how it applies to your web application’s functionalities than a disconnected FAQ or help section.

Nourish by Integral Impressions is an application that creates an automated email newsletter of any RSS feed. The entire interface is documented in-line with descriptive help blocks that can easily be closed once the user decides they don’t need the help anymore. A quick visit to the user profile section presents an option to re-enable all the help boxes in the account just in-case the user forgot how to do something."    (Continued via Smashing Magazine)    [Usability Resources]

Nourish’s interface is documented in-line with descriptive help blocks. - Usability, User Interface Design

Nourish’s interface is documented in-line with descriptive help blocks.

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