Sunday, December 27, 2009

Help the user to learn along the way

This article is about user interaction design and how does the application help them not just completing their task but help them learn along the way.

I have been supporting a lot issue from my client. Sometime, user/QA is lack of experience/traning on business process as well as the product they're using. This lead to a lot of question regarding business process instead of solving the real problem (e.g. error testing, bug finding). Questions such as:

1. Where this value/result come from?
2. Why this record have this behaviour/status and changed the next hour?
3. What the application is doing and what does it mean? What this error mean and why it is there?

From the above questions, therefore the application needs to be able to do the following:

1. Teach the user how to use the application. (e.g. step wizard, interaction help, tool tip tutorial)
2. Explain to user what is going on. (e.g. Icon, symbol, picture to inform the user what's currently going on or current status)
3. Program error tracing and logging needs to be meaningful not just for developer but as well for users. Therefore, one error may be used by both user.

In conclusion, this is just a fairy tale. Sorry to disappoint and took your time to read this article. If you don't mind further reading, below is what are the excuses why the above solution will not be implemented. This is what the developer/management will say:

1. Step wizard, interaction help and tool tip took too much time and resources to implement. Our hands are full for project implementation/new programming language/new technology.
2. We don't have graphic/design team for icon, symbol and picture to help user to explain what's going on.
3. Support team will be out of work if user don't need them or know what's the error mean.

Well, this is the real world but hey, at least the support team can secure their job. :P