UX Design: The Intro Level


This is not a project but a software design tip for anyone building apps for SAFE.

When I was building software, I always enjoyed the user interface most, and hated it most, because it was both really hard to do well and the most creative and fun thing to win through. I even separately invented the hyperlink and pre-fetching pages into a cache for a Teletext programme I made. How cool is that!

Anyway, one of the things I learned about user interface, apart from it being at least as important as the functionality, is that it had to be obvious. And for complex software, the crucial thing was what I thought of as “discoverability”.

Discoverability being the ability for the user to be able to discover what they need to know, in order to get what they want done, at whatever point in their learning about the software they have reached. Now you can see how this gets hard as soon as the capability gets rich or complex!

Anyway, software is now apparently a game, because that’s, well the fashion, so here’s an article from the gamification guru Jeff Atwood (of StackExchange, and Discourse - the software used for this forum - you did know this is a game didn’t you).

The Intro Level

Jeff explains that this discovery process is necessary because software manuals don’t get read, and suggests we learn from computer games,in which he says the intro level is easy because it is the manual. But I would say that you don’t need to stop at the intro level, lead your user at each level, so with a little curiosity they can discover every feature little by little.

Remember what a buzz you get as a developer when you crack some obscure little issue in a new language. Remember your users are just like you. So give them buzz after buzz!

Here’s how Jeff explains it: