Natural User Assistance
By Ultan O'Broin-Oracle on Jul 15, 2010
Everyone should read my Apps-UX colleague John Cartan's usableapps piece called "iPad's Natural User Interface at Work". Excellent analysis. Look at the key messages about the Natural User Interace (NUI):
"A NUI is an interface that lets people use their natural behaviors to interact directly with information. I find that NUIs have four defining characteristics: 1. Direct, natural input 2. Realistic, real-time output 3. Content, not chrome 4. Immediate consequences"
Now, what might that mean for user assistance (UA) on the iPad or other NUI-driven devices. It really is the end for the WTF messages, RTFM and F1 online help model for sure! For one thing it means leveraging device capabilities as well as natural human inputs.
Could we be on the cusp of a UA paradigm where scratching or shaking your head indicates a need for assistance, and where we have the device responding immediately with a concierge telling the user what to do when the user screams in frustration? How about error messages? Perhaps we will see better use of audio, rich content or tactile potential as immediate problem solvers here; accommodating the emotional need of the user while being persuasive about how to proceed.
The potential for helping users complete interactions 'naturally' is tremendous. Pretty much I think the iPad and NUI will bring about a change in the concept of user assistance as radically as the rest of the applications. And another point, perhaps consider how the iPad may be a UA device in itself for support analysts, user group and community managers, in-field technicians, implementers, and so on? Lots of potential there, which I will return to.
Exciting possibilities we'll be researching up on.