Top 6 Help Design Patterns for iPhone Apps

Top 6 Help Design Patterns for iPhone Apps

User Experience Designers usually aim to make application interfaces intuitive and easy to use without relying on help or a manual to guide the user through how to use the app.  However, there are times when an interface is most effective and efficient to use once some initial behaviors are learned.  In these cases, designing an application to be completely intuitive upon first-time use can be impractical or detrimental to repetitive use.  There are also times where a quick introduction on how to use an app simply makes the user feel more comfortable interacting with it for the first time, and is not a reflection of a poorly designed interface.

iPhone applications that introduce new, innovative interaction models or that allow the user to access a wide range of information or complete several tasks often use first-time use help screens to help users learn how an app works.  This help can come in a wide variety of styles: demos, tutorials, single screen overlays, walkthroughs, tips, or short screen summaries.  These first-time help screens are often supplemented by a centralized help or FAQ area within the app.  Below is a look at how different apps have leveraged these help patterns to introduce functionality to their users upon first use.

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We should design things to convey whatever personality and emotions are desired

“Everything has a personality: everything sends an emotional signal. Even where this was not the intention of the designer, the people who view the website infer personalities and experience emotions. Bad websites have horrible personalities and instill horrid emotional states in their users, usually unwittingly. We need to design things–products, websites, services–to convey whatever personality and emotions are desired.” – Don Norman

Read more in Don’s interview with Johnny Holland: “Design Research and Innovation.”

Customer experience needs to be a competence, not a function

“Customer experience needs to be a competence, not a function. The end game is to have a customer-centric culture and a set of customer-centric processes, at which point customer-centricity becomes self-sustaining.” – Harley Manning

Read more in Harley’s interview “Making User and Customer Experience a Business Competency.”

Creativity should not be relegated to the creative department; it is a requirement for all

“Fostering a culture based on creativity and collaboration helps bring down the walls that divide people from each other within organizations. Collaboration is not just amongst and within a given team; it needs to filter through and cross teams and departments. Creativity is not relegated to the creative department; it is a requirement for all.” – Cynthia Thomas

Read more in Cynthia’s article “The Importance of Designing an Experience Culture.

Creating great user experiences takes a multidisciplinary team that shares ownership of UX

“Creating truly great products requires an entire product team to place the needs of users foremost when making product decisions—or even better, a user-centered corporate culture… Creating great product user experiences takes a village—a smoothly functioning multidisciplinary product team that shares ownership of UX.” - Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Read more in Pabini’s article “Sharing Ownership of UX.”

Failure is a marker along the road to designing great experiences

“Failure and loss can be good. If you aren’t finding failure in your design work, then you aren’t really exploring all the possible solutions… Failure is not an end result if we have purpose and intention. It’s only a marker along the road to designing great experiences.” – Francisco Inchauste

Read more in Francisco’s article “Failure by Design.”