when worlds collide: improving ux by applying progressive info disclosure

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Do you often feel like there’s more to developing technical product content than user guides, reference manuals, and contextual help? Do you sometimes find that your information deliverables are discontinuous or that the content is redundant between them? Would you like to have more impact on your business and the overall user experience of your product through your content? If so, join Andrea as she presents the human factors concept of “progressive disclosure” and applies it to the architecture and design of information! Andrea will discuss how to approach your information architecture and design from the user’s goals and the tasks that she needs to perform — revealing just the information the user needs, just when she needs it — so that you can positively affect the design of the product and improve the user experience. She’ll also describe the team-interaction considerations necessary to make the approach successful in a real, team-oriented, cross-functional product-development environment.


  • 1. When Worlds Collide:Improving the User Experience byApplying Progressive InformationDisclosurePresented byAndrea L. Ames @aamesIBM Senior Technical Staff Member /Total Information Experience Strategist & Architectat 2013 Intelligent Content Conference (#ICC2013)on 8 February 2013in San Francisco, CA USA

2. About Andrea Technical communicator since 1983 Areas of expertise Information architecture and design and interaction design forproducts and interactive information Information and product usabilityfrom analysis throughvalidation User-centered design and development process IBM Senior Technical Staff Member UCSC in Silicon Valley Extension Tech Comm andWriting certificate coordinator and instructor STC Fellow, past president (2004-05), and past memberof Board of Directors (1998-2006) ACM Distinguished Engineer (c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 2 2 3. Agenda Progressive disclosure (PD) Traditional information PD The new twist applying it to the informationexperience, in particular the UI Workshop: Quick steps to PDand group heuristic evaluation And more! Resources (c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 3 3 4. According to Wikipediaprogressive disclosure (PD): To move complex and less frequently used options out of the main user interfaceand into secondary screens An interaction design technique Often used in human computer interaction Helps maintain the focus of a users attention by reducing clutter, confusion, andcognitive workload Improves usability by presenting only the minimum data required for the task at hand Sequences actions across several screens Reduces feelings of overwhelm for the user Reveals only the essentials and helps the user manage the complexity of feature-richsites or applications Moves from "abstract to specific" via ramping up the user from simple to morecomplex actions (c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 4 5. PD for interaction isnt new Around since at least the early 1980s (Jack Carroll, IBM) Jakob Nielsen has been discussing it for ages"Progressive disclosure is the best tool so far: show peoplethe basics first, and once they understand that, allowthem to get to the expert features. But dont showeverything all at once or you will only confuse people and they will waste endless time messing with features thatthey dont need yet". In information development, PD can be applied tocontent, as well (c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 5 6. What is progressiveinformation disclosure? In an information experience, enables you (the author) toprovide the right information in the right place at the righttime Assumes competent performer to proficient performeris stage of use (backup) in which users will spend mostof their time when using the productnot novices; notexperts Defer display of novice information, background,concepts, extended reference material and examples,etc., until the user needs and requests it Reduces complexity by revealing only the essentials fora current task and then reveals more as users advancethrough tasks(c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 6 7. What is progressiveinformation disclosure? (cont.) Reveals information in an ordered manner Each layer builds on the previous one in a flow that provides progressively more information Provides only the details that are necessary at a given time, in a specific context Provides assistance when necessary--not information created just to cover an empty widget Do not repeat information; for example, do not repeat field labels in hover text. A guided journey, not a scavenger hunt" Designed around the ideal information experiencewith no resourceor time constraints Implemented realistically with necessary constraints (c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 7 8. A rose by any other name Technical communicators have beendoing PD for a long time We might not call it PD The best example of traditional PD:Well-architected, traditional, online help Primarylayer: Contextual and task topics Secondary layers: prereqs, background,related concepts and reference, etc.(c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 8 9. Traditional, contextual help (c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 9 10. The problem with traditional assistance andtraditional information development methods Typical UI-text development process: Written by developers of the UI Edited by tech pubs (best case; often copy edit capturing only capitalization and punctuation issues and typos) Typical help development process: Writers attend (some) design meetings, keeping track of the number of UI panels in the product, which typically include one help button per panel Writers develop one help topic for each UI panel in the product Pop-up help/hover help provided for all, or no, controls Task help describes how to complete the fields in the UI panel : Pop-up/hover help content repeated in task help Writers cut and paste from specs Typical library design and development process: Deliverables developed based on development expectations and history vs. user needs Other (non-help) deliverable content identified without regard for task help also being created Extensive redundancy across UI text, help, and other deliverables (like books) Design process accomplished within resource and time constraints, notaccording to ideal or customer needs (c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-201310 11. Whats wrong with this picture?(c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 11 12. The next PDevolution/revolution The UI Add value Get even closer to the task than the help Influence the design of the task and taskecosystem Drive reductions in words Prioritize resources around client value (c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 12 13. WorkshopLets get our hands dirty! 14. Quick surveydo you know: DITA? information architecture? topics? topic-based content architecture? topic-based content development?(c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 14 15. Quick steps to PD1.Consider your user and their stages of use (backup)2.Start with the product: Is the UI as obvious and self-evident as possible 1. Consider the types of content you need to provide Control assistance Panel assistance 2.And the types of mechanisms available Persistent UI text that doesnt require a user gesture Simple UI gestures your users will tolerate3.Can you improve help?4.How are you supporting use of the product withnon-UI, task-oriented deliverables?5.What issues will keep you from implementingthis kind of approach?(c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-201315 16. User, scenario Content creator/technical writer Information architect Use IA Workbench to create a topic modelfor a DITA document Expectations, needs(c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 16 17. UI First view: welcome Task flow All assistance about the UI should be in the UI Persistent absolutely necessary User controllable useful, might be needed by someusers (obvious to get to) Imagine you are a consultant or advisor, looking over theusers shoulder; what does she need to know? (c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 17 18. Just beyond the UI:Various flavors of help Stop yelling! Repeating the same thing, over and over,does not make the message morevaluable, useful, or enhance userscomprehension(c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 18 19. Completely divorced from the UIor is it? Doc library Another form of help? What kind of content delivered in thisway? Is the content were delivering this wayvaluable (at all)? Or the most valuable forthe delivery mechanism? (c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 19 20. The biggest stumbling block(s)What keeps us from applying this approach? We didnt know about it or how to do it We dont think its the right thing to do Others (non-content people, like engineers)dont understand it and/or buy into it Processes and process artifacts dont support it Tools dont support it Other issues? (c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 20 21. Need we say more?Probably 22. PD revolution prerequisite:Think More, Write LessThink more meansWrite less means Ensuring that the UI is as easy to Owning and being responsible for explain as possible by contributingthe information experience to designing interaction the right way the first time Not making our users think about Starting from the users immediatehow to use the product task context and working your way Not falling back on old paradigms: out to more general information make looking for the answer a One help topic per UI screenlast resort (because it is) How many books are we going to Not forcing users to read more write?than they have to Not letting the developers think for Prioritizing what you cover andyouwherefor example, using scenarios Being assertive making sure Not just papering the productyoure involved throughout the with traditional documentationdesign process(c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 22 23. Why do we need to change? Traditional deliverables, developed by traditional methods, are not working: Reference that papers the product Generalized user-guide info Type your name in the Name field help Most documentation focuses on functional information, not domain information, or the mapping from domain to product functionwritten from the inside out Much of that information covers the large number of tasks users need to do such as installing, migrating, etc. that are not business goals Online libraries stuffed with everything we produce Documentation is often compensation for unusable productsa finger in aneroding dam of bad product design Customers and users dont read documentationreading documentation isnever a business goal Information is difficult to find and often does not address the users issue Customers do not perceive information as separate from product Customers look more and more to forums, knowledge bases, and othersocial sources of info vs. product doc Can you afford not to changedo you have the resource to continuebuilding and maintaining content that customers dont need or use?(c) Andrea L. Ames, 2006-2013 23 24. How can we think moreand write less? Prioritize using deep understanding of users(scenarios, use cases, etc.) Sometimes this means not wri