Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Best Practices for Embedded UA

Although I always like to hear Dave Gash speak, the physical layout of the room they gave him, with no tables, drove me away. It's just unworkable for taking notes. So instead I'm in the Embedded UA session, by Scott DeLoach--which isn't at all a bad thing.

The early points that Scott makes include the notion that the writing you do, even in a user interface, needs to persuade, motivate, and communicate. It has to anticipate the real questions users will have. For example, in a web form, it's obvious that a name and address needs to be put in the fields. But users also want to know why they would want to give that information.

It's useful to allow users to add their own content. Comments can be a very useful thing, especially when attached to specific topics created by you.

You can provide other UA options. Many web forms are cutting edge with their UA. Some sites offer a "live' chat. But some also know when chat or suport is available, and change the button or link. For example, at night, the button may be to sent email.

It's good to actively request feedback. But limit the number of questions you ask. A lot of people want to have a voice, especially when they are dissatisfied. Important to have a thick skin; 90% of the comments will be negative.

Allow users to customize your embedded content. Let them select a language, ask their own questions, reuse content, and turn off features.  Travel sites are a good example of offering content in multiple languages. Would rather see poor translation than no translation. Better 10% usable than 0% usable. Technology translation is getting better and better. Nerver be good as a person, but it is improving.

Many places are now adding links so you can post content to Twitter or Facebook. On eBay, you can turn off user assistance poop-ups. It does frustrate some people when you force help on them. Some people just don't want to admit they need help.

Turning to user learning guidelines, encourage success encourage exploration, and challenge users.

When users are new to a product, if they are successful immediately, they will be happy. They will give it a chance. But if they have trouble in the beginning, that sets their expectation of the entire experience with the product. Their first interaction is key.

Scott showed off some HTML5 techniques for embedded UA. First up, adding subtitles to instructional videos. YOu can use the contenteditable attribute on a tag to allow users to edit content. And you can use the WebStorage API to save user-edited content.

HTML5 provides many built-in assistance methods for forms. You can require input on form fields. HTML5 has some built-in validation, for email addresses and URLs. You can even spell check user input.

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