Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence in machines that we’ve programmed to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. In recent times, AI has successfully carried automation to the next level with its wide range of capabilities. AI is bringing about the transformation of industries across diverse domains. The information technology (IT) industry is no exception. In fact, the IT industry has enthusiastically embraced the immense potential of AI to transform virtually every aspect of its operations. Professionals within the IT sector have engaged in extensive discussions regarding the potential benefits and drawbacks of AI-driven technologies.
Although market analysts have connected the rapid rise and widespread adoption of AI to recent downsizing at major IT firms, it is crucial that we harness the potential of AI to benefit the IT industry. Highlighting the positive aspects of AI-driven technologies is of the utmost importance. Read More
Picture this scenario: You are using an application to work on a time-critical project, and suddenly, you are stuck for want of information about a particular screen. Time is running out. You reach for the application’s documentation and spend a few minutes trying to figure out what to do next. Thankfully, you are quickly able to locate the relevant information and continue with your work. You are pleased with the documentation and praise the unknown writer.
In this case, the application’s documentation served your needs well. How did the writer of your application’s documentation know how to meet your needs? The most likely answer would point to the effective application and use of personas. Read More
User assistance occurs within an action context—the user doing something with an application—and should appear in close proximity to the focus of that action—that is, the application it supports. The optimal placement of user assistance, space permitting, is in the user interface itself. We typically call that kind of user assistance instructional text. But when placing user assistance within an application as instructional text, we must modify conventional principles of good information design to accommodate certain forces within an interactive user interface. This column, User Assistance, talks about how the rules for effective instruction change when creating instructional text for display within the context of a user interface.
User Behaviors and Their Implications for Instructional Text
When designing user assistance—particularly instructional text within the context of an application—we should keep the following typical user behaviors in mind:
When users are processing information on a computer screen, their flow of focus is the same as when they process information on a printed page. For example, in English, readers scan from the upper left to the lower right and read from left to right and top to bottom; in Arabic, people read from right to left and top to bottom.
When using an application, users are motivated to take action, and their focus is easily drawn to action objects such as menus, buttons, and text fields.
Once an action object or other visual element on a page has drawn a user’s focus downstream in the focus flow, it is difficult to redirect it back upstream. In other words, if something initially draws a user’s attention to the middle of a page, it is far more likely that the user will continue across and down as opposed to going back up the page. This is especially true if there are additional action objects downstream.