28 June, 2017

How To Educate Mobile Users Using Contextual Tutorials

You heard good things about an app. You downloaded and installed it. You launched the app. You are faced with 7-screen long swipe tutorial that educates you about each and every feature in the app. You hope to remember the features like a memory expert would. Except that, you won't! Mobile app tutorials make or break the app based on their design. Let's take a look at two types of tutorial and which one of these creates a positive impact on users.
 1. Screen by Screen Tutorial

Pulse app throws a big help file called Quick Tutorial educating the user about 4 gestures. The first thing the user does is to 'Dismiss' this screen, due to cognitive overload. As he uses the app thereafter, he struggles to recollect which gestures are mapped to which tasks. In many apps, a quick tutorial is a first-time launch screen that disappears into wilderness forever. Users end up uneducated.
Another example is a static tutorial like the one above. Perhaps, some users take a screenshot and store it. In this case, user's don't just forget the tutorial, but they even forget where the screenshot was stored in the first place. End solution - uninstall the app, reinstall and re-launch the app. Easy. Isn't it?


Users don't install apps to get a Ph.D degree in How to use your app. They want to accomplish their primary goal, quickly. They are least interested in browsing a 7 screen tutorial on app design features.

Conventional wisdom states that tutorials/static educational screens must be displayed at first launch of the app. Users must go through the learning process (if you are lucky, there'll be a skip option), before proceeding to use the app. This works best in a world where tasks happen in a linear sequence - one task after the other. Sadly, tasks are non-sequential, occurring in a random manner. This leads to remembering features, gestures or ideas difficult.

2. Contextual (Just In Time) Tutorials
A contextual (just-in-time) tutorial is displayed just in time when the user needs it. A contextual tutorial tells the user what is the right thing to do at that moment in time, without referring to the previous or next screen. It provides relevant and necessary information, unlike screen by screen tutorial which throws loads of information at once, irrespective of which flow the user might be using.

Contextual tutorials can be used to educate users in multiple ways:
a. Interactive Tour, One Feature At A Time

Elk is a currency converter app with simple UI. A user can convert a value from one currency to another for whole numbers and decimals. For e.g., a user can seek conversion of 10.35 INR to HUF. This app doesn't show a long tutorial at first launch. Instead, the feature is introduced step by step, the app waits for the user to try the step, understand it and then move on to next feature. Interactive tour works well for complex apps.

b. When Users Commit Errors
When users commit errors, it is common practice to display an error message, educating the user. It turns out, users don't want to be educated. Rather, they love to be guided when they go wrong. On Wego app, when the user forgets to select travel dates during flight booking, a simple action dulls rest of the screen and highlights just the departure and arrival dates, indicating that user needs to enter this data to proceed. This is a delightful way to tell users how exactly they went wrong, where they went wrong and how to fix it. The job is done well.

Users are no longer excited about elaborate onboarding ceremonies before performing their task. They want to setup the app as quickly as possible, complete the task on hand and get out. It's best to think of contextual/just in time education as improving the quality of lives users have by creating delightful experiences for them.

Do you have a contextual tutorial in your app?

08 June, 2017

Top UX Influencers You Need to Know

This article was originally published on Linked In.
If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.
Thus said, Isaac Newton. Thanks to the Internet, I am constantly learning from the work of many great people across the world. This article is a small attempt to introduce you to few giants in User Experience (UX) space. This list is never complete as there are hundreds of thousands of people who are quietly doing their work.
Twitter is a treasure trove of experts in different fields. I frequent Twitter to learn from the experts on specific topics like UX, read about latest trends and apply them to projects based on the context. Many experts I wrote to, responded graciously and guided me. I am amazed and grateful forever, for the great work done by these great people who have generously shared their experience and expertise for free to make this world a better place for all of us. Aspiring UXers and designers looking for inspiration can learn from these UX influencers with a great legacy behind them. The names are in no particular order.
Donald Norman @jnd1er
The founding father of user experience, Donald Norman is credited with coining the term “user experience”. He is one of the world’s most famous UX Designers with @NNgroup. Don Norman’s books are intense, thought-provoking, and showcase his love to create humanizing experiences for users.
Recommended Reading: All of Donald Norman’s books
Luke Wroblewski @lukew
Luke Wroblewski is my digital transformation hero. He is a straight-speaking UX guy with a penchant for all things UX in Web and Mobile. His deep work and advice on building next generation mobile apps are close to none other. True to his Twitter bio, he is truly humanizing technology. Luke is a truly hands-on, highly insightful technical subject matter expert of our times.
Recommended Reading: Every article he has ever written!
Jared Spool @jmspool
Jared Spool is a UX legend and one of the most influential authority on UX design for almost 40 years. His articles, talks, and workshops give you fundamental insights we need to build great experiences. He emphasizes on overall human experiences while building products. Jared’s thought-provoking satire on his experience of flying United Airlines experiences can air drop you into a thinking pool.
Recommended Reading: Every article he has ever written!
Steve Krug @skrug
Steve’s best-selling book Don’t Make Me Think was the first book that got me thinking about usability. His books are simple and easy to understand for beginners. His insights on human-computer interactions and user testing are commendable. If you are starting out in usability, this guy’s body of work does wonders for you.
Recommended Reading: Don’t Make Me Think
David Rose @davidrose
David Rose is a world-renowned MIT Media Lab researcher who has built fabulous products with enchanting experiences, as he calls them. The products he has built imbibe subtle human feelings. His products and book are must learn stuff. David is one of the gifted UX artists we have today.
Recommended Reading: Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire, and the Internet of Things
Bill Buxton @wasbuxton
Bill Buxton is a Principal Researcher, Interaction Designer and a relentless advocate for innovation and design. His 2007 book, Sketching User Experiences reflects his love for human values and culture.
Recommended Reading: Sketching User Experiences
Alan Cooper @MrAlanCooper
Rightly called the Software Alchemist, Alan Cooper is the ‘Father of Visual Basic,’ and Inventor of design personas. Alan’s books focus on how not to drive users crazy and keep them sane.
Recommended Reading: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity.
Golden Krishna @goldenkrishna
One of the top hands-on designers with a legacy of great UX work at Zappos, Amazon, Samsung, Cooper and now at Google, Golden Krishna is a human-centered designer who is making technology human-friendly.
Recommended Reading: Best Interface is No Interface
I follow many others like Jakob Nielsen, Bruce Tognazzini, Adrian Zumbrunnen, Susan Weinschenk, Karen McGrane, Annette Priest, Laura Klein, Ethan Marcotte, Jess James Garrett and a hundred others. I’ll add their information once I have read their books/blogs and learn more about their body of work.
I use the term Expert for a constant learner, a teacher or a guru. With due credits to all great people who claim to be experts as well as those who don’t think of themselves as experts, we need to understand, there are no EXPERTS on any subject or in any field. Every so called expert builds on the knowledge and experience of their predecessors and contemporaries. Making this world a better place to live is the only thing that matters. And many people do that. I express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who share what they know and help others to become better moment by moment through Twitter, books, blogs, and other online/offline forums. THANK YOU!
Guru devo bhava!