Product Training, Onboarding, Help Documentation & Microlearning

Training and Instruction in The Age of Usability

Most of your end-users probably have a gmail account. They have probably been upgraded already to the clean, icon-centered Windows 7 or the snazzy Tablet-styled Windows 8. They may or may not own an iPod/iPad, or any other Apple product but they most likely have an ebay/Amazon/Etsy/Pinterest account. I’m not even talking about Facebook. The point being – over the past few years, your users have gotten used to smooth, shiny interfaces, a minimum amount of clicks and actions within a single workflow, less buttons and let’s face it – less words.

 

This presents a remarkable challenge to the world of training and instruction, which is rooted in the written word, in the the constant strive for eloquence and in the struggle to break down into words a piece of software built and designed by someone else. Writers and training professionals are faced with the need to deal with what may be conceived as the dumbing down of end-users. There is less tolerance and patience toward complexity in this world of 3-colors-2-buttons-no-scrolldown. Granted, intricate products will always require a multi-step approach to instructing, but even their producers are gradually succumbing to the icon-toolbars culture and are minimizing the amount of steps between actions.

 

Today’s software is carefully selected by individuals and corporations not only for its powerful performance but also for the ease with which it will be implemented. Less time wasted by end users on learning a SaaS tool or a Word processor – more time for them to be actually working.

In this user experience climate, online help is also undergoing extensive transformations. Knowledgebases and FAQs are no longer enough and the amount of websites offering chat support upon initial landing has increased dramatically.

The context-sensitive online help service Iridize offers is exactly about that. We recognize the need to take the training and instruction field into its next stage and the dynamic on-page guidance tool we developed is that smooth, elegant solution for combining indispensable text with an accessible, easy to use tooltip.

Writing Help Documentation for New and Veteran Users

One of the challenges facing documentation writers since the beginning of software is the following dilemma: how to reconcile help content for first time users and veteran users? The working assumption being that first time users need to be taken by the hand and led throughout the product step-by-step, whereas veteran users are versed in the product and need to learn only advanced and new features.

 

Mark Baker, a long time technical communicator and content engineer, wrote extensively about this matter. He argues that users are no longer at the level of novice-ness that requires hand-holding documentation, and that software UI has improved to the point where users are protected from disaster by intelligent microcopy and careful UX.

 

We have the power to run sophisticated interfaces. Early electronics did not have the power to run fancy interfaces, to provide infinite levels of undo or to warn about any destructive actions before executing them. Interfaces used to be cryptic and dangerous because they ran on limited hardware. Now they are clear and safe because we have the computing power to make them clear and safe.

Mark Baker, Tech Comm’s Obsession with Novices has to Stop

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Iridize to Assist Government of Israel in Pillar of Defense

As many of you know, the past few days have been turbulent in Israel and Gaza, as Operation Pillar of Defense unfolds and the region is shaken with rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and air raids on Gaza.

 

Iridize has stepped in to help with the Government of Israel’s Emergency Portal (since then taken down) – an aggregator of useful information to help folks through these days of tumult. Based on the same modular technology we used to bring you on-page guidance, we developed a solution that enables quick, smooth conversion of a standard website to mobile. The best part: no need to download any Apps. This way, anyone anxious for updates or information on emergency setup will be able to access the info easily on their iPhone or Android with the website interface adjusted for a mobile experience.

 

How does it make for a better user experience? The information you’re looking for just got a whole lot more accessible. Instead of downloading yet another application serving a temporary purpose – just browse www.darom.gov.il (since then taken down) on your mobile and get what you need.

 

While we realize this doesn’t decrease the panic when the alarms go off, we would like to think iridize is contributing a bit to reducing the stress level in terms of staying updated and informed. Iridize would like to take the opportunity to send out the team’s deepest concern and sympathies to all the people whose lives have been affected by the turmoil.

World Usability Day 2012 – Making Life Easier Through User Experience

Yesterday was World Usability Day. Nearly 100 events in 30 countries worldwide took place, featuring key speakers and notable figures in the UX community who lectured on topics related to user experience, design and Usability of Financial Systems, which was this year’s theme. The iridize team had to pass on attending events and we had to content ourselves with stalking Live Tweeters from Boston and Dubai.

 

WUD’s tagline is “Making life easy” and in the promo video, John Hockenberry relates to the essential need for making things more usable and universally accessible and points out that the opposite of usability is useless.

 

He makes a good point, of course. The basic human desire to improve life is deeply rooted in a constant attempt to make things easier, simpler, more efficient. Why not use telephones instead of Carrier Pigeons? Why keep working the poor horses for a third of the profit from crops if you can use a tractor? And so, a straight line is drawn from the Agricultural Revolution through the Industrial Revolution to reading emails on your phone and to an entire industry dedicated to mobile interfaces and the online navigation experience. Advancement, technology and striving to better one’s life have always been intertwined.

 

Which is why bringing together all that insight, intuition and experience on user experience and usability design in WUD is so important. Not only for UX professionals, UX Designers and UX Architects but also for users, end users and customers seeking to better their interaction with products and technology worldwide. It is through these meetings of minds and exchanging of ideas that we keep moving forward, one outreaching innovation at a time.

Abandonment Issues: Minimize Cart Abandonment Rates

If you are the owner of an online SMB (or an SMB that provides eCommerce services), like us – you probably spend a substantial amount of time and energy considering your customers. More to the point, you work hard to improve online customer experience. This, as we at Iridize discovered through comprehensive research,  is a challenge bordering on rocket science. There are myriad factors to be taken into account in order to keep a user engaged until the end of the process.

 

The statistics on average shopping cart abandonment are through the roof: 65.23% of potential online shoppers abandon their shopping cart at various stages of the process. 11% of them do so because of complex checkout processes, 12% feel too much information is required of them and for 22% of your would-be customers, the shipping prices were unclear (scroll down for the invesp infographic).

 

That’s where we come in: our walkthrough tools can help simplify your checkout process considerably. How? Through guiding the user safely and accurately through the checkout process, leaving no room for error, helping to eliminate user frustration. We do this with a series of tooltips that create a site tour, pointing to screen elements and using simple, engaging language. Want to check it out? Get a demo.

 

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User Experience – Not Just About Immaculate Design


If you are in the user experience or product management business, if your website engages buyers in transactions or you are involved in SaaS development – you care about your users and their needs. You consider their preferences in every step along the way, you are sensitive to their distastes and you work hard to minimize their challenges in interacting with your website/product. You are well aware of what happens if you do the Don’ts and try to avoid them. But you will need more than intelligent design to keep your users engaged enough to spend more than the average 10-20 seconds on your website. iridize can provide you with the right tools for that.

In this day and age, most users have an idea of how many clicks they are willing to commit to in order to complete a transaction or obtain assistance from their service provider’s website. The number of clicks may change from user to user, depending on levels of web orientation and patience. No one counts these clicks consciously (except for user experience critiques), but the saturation point, when it arrives, is unmistakable. Beyond that number of clicks and time invested in looking for directions – your customers will lose interest and patience. In the case of service providers, they will resort to contacting your customer support service by other means, namely phone and online chats (sometimes, ironically a more complicated and time consuming task). In the case of eCommerce – you may have just lost an potentially willing customer to the competition.

The engagement process needs to be quick and focused in order to lose the minimal amount of time between the second your customer has hit your landing page and the moment s/he is engaged in whatever action they may or may not have intended to take when first entering your site. iridize has the perfect solution for you: our on-page guidance tool can make the most of those precious first moments, when first impressions -as with most introductions- are critical. The demo is an organic part of the website. Now, didn’t that catch your attention?

How iridize can help you improve user experience and engagement

When customers try to use your service and fail, they might go and look for the instructions, double check that everything is in order, and try again and again until they finally succeed.

Research into the psychology of failure, however, has shown that given the option, many will choose to opt out.

In a classical experiment1, individuals were given a task which was unsolvable. They had to try it and experience failure, much like the lay user trying to carry out a complicated task on a website. Afterwards, they were given another, much easier task, of deciphering anagrams. Half of them had the option to opt out, and not complete the task, and the others just had to complete it. Both of these were measured against control subjects who did not experience failure.

The results were clear: those that had to finish the task, no matter what, performed as well as controls. They had to do the task, no matter what, and they did it. On the other hand, many of those who had a chance to opt-out, did, and even those who did not opt-out, performed much worse than controls.

The lesson from this study is clear: individuals who experience failure will tend to opt out so as not to experience it again.

You want the users to have a positive, constructive experience with your SaaS application or website from the moment they enter.

Help your users succeed – Iridize!

1. Miller, A. Performance impairment after failure: Mechanism and sex differences. Journal of Educational Psychology 78, 486–491 (1986).

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