Are UI walkthroughs bad for learnability?

Max Rudberg has written a nice piece on UI walkthroughs, those special sequences of screens often created for first-time use. (note that the headline “If you see a UI walkthrough, they blew it” isn’t quite what Max is saying)

His advice is right on:

“When it comes to teaching users to use your UIs, I would recommend to do so mainly by progressive disclosure with slight visual cues and subtle animations¬†– only use a walkthrough as a final resort.”

It’s not that walkthroughs are all bad…they can be useful in certain circumstances. But in general the best way to have a learnable UI is to make the UI itself learnable…with subtle cues here and there, rather than create a separate screen or process by which to learn.

Published: February 22nd, 2013