Let’s say you are to teach some people to use a specific tool or software your company has developed, or you have purchased from a third-party software developer. The next immediate step is to get whoever needs to use the tool to use the tool. And you need to make sure they know how to use the tool.
But how? The answer is to design a process or a method of navigation, and this is user onboarding. You are up for the task to train your users to use the tool or software.
There are a few types of navigation or guides. Two of the most commonly used guides are lightboxes and tooltips.
Lightboxes would automatically pop up. It may overlay a portion of the interface you are on. A lightbox is used to reveal an important or more global message, such as a pre-scheduled system upgrade.
Tooltips usually show up alongside a specific feature or element within your application. For example, show a tooltip badge when your web analytics tool has released a new report type. This doesn’t interrupt your users at all.
To use a guide as a training tool, it is important to consider how you want the interaction to take place. In some cases, you need to interrupt your users. In other cases, you shouldn’t interrupt what they’re already doing.
A properly and appropriately designed guide can be a highly effective tool to deliver help to your users while they may already be struggling to use the software.
For example, an in-context help can make a significant difference in the overall user experience, such as a tooltip. To learn more about a feature, or a capability, your users can simply click on a tooltip badge by a button or a dropdown menu. This type of guide that provides in-context help must be able to fold seamlessly into the user experience. That’s the best way to provide onboarding experience.
Another aspect to consider is the guides shouldn’t be intrusive, and shouldn’t distract a user when she doesn’t need help. The problem with some software is that they have some functions or features which are not the easiest for first time users to quickly figure out. After they spend some time on it without success, they lose interest using the feature.
The next upgrade is to connect multiple guides. This way, you’re building walk-throughs that can take a user through all the exact steps that they need to accomplish a task. This is very powerful.