By Ultan O'Broin-Oracle on Mar 14, 2011
It may seem obvious but it's worth stating again. The idea that mobile users are going to read lots of user assistance on their devices is just wrong. So, Jakob Nielsen's post Mobile Content Is Twice as Difficult serves as a timely reminder for anyone thinking of putting manuals as a form of user assistance onto mobile phones.
There is also an excellent post on UXMag.com, explaining that one of the ways to screw up with your iPhone app is to throw an old-style user manual into the user experience: 10 Surefire Ways to Screw Up Your iPhone App.
(Image copyright and referenced from UX Magazine 2010)
Instead, user assistance alternatives--if any at all--include one-time tours, graphics, in-context instructions, and so on. Not so sure that importing "humor" and "personality" work so well in the enterprise app space, myself. However, the message is clear:
iPhone users don't read manuals.
Great message. Users will figure it out, and if they can't, well then your app's UX is a problem and the app will fail. Shame some teams are obsessed with figuring out ways to port existing manuals to mobile platforms without any thought for the UX. Razorfish's Scatter/Gather blog says it all:
One thing that is particularly discouraging, most material currently available on "Creating Content for the iPad" or similar themes turns out to be about getting traditional content onto, or into, the iPad.
Now, manuals for non-end users in PDF format on eReaders is a different matter. I have research on that, but it's for another post.