The tutorial trap

by Andrea Maioli on 05/15/2013

No modern application should require a manual in order to use it. We’ve agreed on this a number of times.

Nevertheless, many business applications handle complex processes, and that makes them more and more complicated: as long as we’re talking about shooting photos and choosing the ones we like it doesn’t take much, but managing a manufacturing programming system is another thing entirely.

At this point some might propose including “integrated documentation systems” into the application itself to give users the information they need when they’re unsure of how to proceed. That was the goal behind Kera: teaching the world how to use software, with a tool that allowed developers to add a system of tutorials integrated into their web apps.

But a few weeks ago Kera threw in the towel, recognizing that users don’t want to be guided while using applications. It may seem strange, but it’s true. But what’s the reason behind this behavior?

This is an open question; after many years of observing how people approach using an application, in my opinion the main reason is that training and use are two separate processes. While I’m using the application I don’t want to have to learn it; instead I need to set aside a separate period of time for learning.

So, if you simply can’t make using your applications natural, my advice is to not throw away money in the tutorial trap. Instead, convince your clients to schedule training courses.

What do you think?

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