Back in May, Jonathan Anderson at UXMagazine started an important debate on the direction and shaping of the UX profession. This made me realize that the field of walkthrus and site tours is also in its formative days and as such, the terminology to address the thing that shows you other things around websites is, well, half baked at best.
It’s funny, that. Think of web and technology terms that didn’t exist or did but acquired a new context over the past 3 years and yet you wouldn’t question their meaning: Mobile, Social, Tablet. Everyone knows exactly what you mean when you refer to apps, plugins, add-ons, but there is hesitation when it comes to interactive guides, online guides, etc.
Needless to say, this multiple-term conundrum has its consequences where Search and SEO results are concerned. This Babylonian term-jumble will eventually resolve itself and as far as linguistic trends and evolution are concerned – one of the terms will stick. For the time being, I did some research in an attempt to get a clearer picture of the terminology currently in use to describe what we do:
At Iridize, we find that On-Page Guidance is a pretty accurate description of what we do, accentuating the on-page aspect, which, we feel, is what this solution is about – providing the help on the same page the issue is, rather than sending the user to wander in the Realms of Off-Page. But this term is hardly in use, and so not very useful on the marketing front.
The two most common terms to describe this solution seem to be Walkthroughs and Site Tours. It should be noted, though, that in many cases the use of both Walkthrough and Site Tour actually refers to tutorial videos, presentations or screenshots.
Another term in use is Product Tour, used by Google Analytics (or would be, if the tour existed).
Interactive Guides is also a popular choice of term and it usually refers to high end graphic work combined with responsiveness to the user’s actions (mouse-over, clicks). A fine example is Microsoft’s interactive guide to Office 2010 commands.
There are also Introductory Tours, but they are less common, I assume because of the expression’s length.
Do you know of any other terms to define what we do?