Examples: Context:  A user needs to understand how to do something complex, usually either performing a task or creating something freeform (as with a WYSIWYG Editor).

Problem:  How can the user learn how to use the artifact?


Solution:  Demonstrate how to do it.  Show a video clip, or drive the software to actually do the task (or something representative of a typical usage) in front of the user.  Make clear what exactly is being demonstrated beforehand.  Let the user repeat the demo, pause it, move slowly through it, etc.  If the task in question is very freeform, demonstrate several variations of the same task, to highlight both the common and the specialized aspects.

Resulting Context:  Hopefully the user will learn what they need to know.  Support them when the start performing the tasks in question with extra help, such as with Short Description for immediate information on objects or actions, and Step-by-Step Instructions for very specific kinds of tasks.

Notes:  Illustrator's demo tutorials turned out to be not as useful as I hoped they would be. Why not?... They were hard to follow; I didn't always know what they were doing before they did it (a running text commentary would have helped), and the mouse jumped around too much to see where it was going most of the time.  I'd love to know what other people's experience has been, with this and other software tutorials.

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Last modified May 17, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999 by Jenifer Tidwell.  All rights reserved.