Don’t do Tutorial prompts

What is wrong in this picture?

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If you said “You’re using Internet Explorer” or “You’re using Google+” you might be right, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the fact that there is a big tutorial prompt between me and the application which prevents me from actually using the application.

Google Apps does it. iTunes does it. The Kindle Paperwhite does it. Photoshop Touch does it. Video games do it. Everyone does it.

It’s annoying. Especially the unskippable ones (e.g., on the Kindle Paperwhite). I understand that some of your UX studies show that certain people have trouble figuring out your application. Now, a good team would redesign the app to be more user friendly (and also make it accessible to colorblind and blind people if they were serious about this stuff). A bad team instead just takes the path of least resistance and sticks in a few tutorial prompts.

And a really shitty team goes even further: Instead of a single tutorial on first startup, they have popups every time you use a new feature for the first time. So after you dismissed the “Welcome!” prompt and think you can now use the application, you have to constantly dismiss “helpful” messages. Imagine riding a train and every few hundred feet, someone yanks the emergency brake. Not fun.

Now, there is nothing wrong with having a help/overlay function. Just stick it in the Help menu, accessible by the question mark icon which is widely accepted. But don’t force your tutorial on everyone, because they are an interruption of the usual flow. I want to use your application to get my stuff done, so stay out of my way.

People are using computers since decades, and novice users managed to learn how to use stuff on their own just fine. Not just computer wizards, but normal, ordinary people. Look at Microsoft Office 95, that one was just fine.

Alternatively, if you are a platform vendor, allow me to check a “I know computers” checkbox in my account (maybe call it FizzBin?) to release me from the obligation to jump through several hoops to actually use an application.

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