In our previous post What Makes A Great Tutorial? 4 Steps To Making One we covered basic principles of creating an effective walkthrough for your users. Today I want to touch on something that people sometimes forget – writing well.
This doesn’t have to do with grammar (though poor spelling is not a good sign either), yet it’s important to understand how well written texts can be instrumental in making a learning experience better your users.
When creating a tutorial you are working with a limited real estate and attention span. While the space is not limited in the bubble itself, you are aiming to convey a thought quickly and in a way that will help people understand. Most sources currently quote an ideal length of a written message between 45 and 75 characters.
We’ve put together several suggestions to keep in mind when creating a tutorial:
Hear it from someone else
It may sound obvious, but test it. For most product owners language they speak is filled with technical jargon and logical shortcuts that rely on good understanding of the subject. Keep in mind that people on the receiving end of this message are likely seeing the product for the first time. Test it on a few people less familiar with your service to see if they can understand it right away.
Use natural language
Like good design, good text is discrete, unobtrusive. Poorly constructed sentences or phrases deflect attention and disrupt smooth progress along the steps of the tutorial. Aim for simplicity and keep readers on their way.
Remember the context
One of the key values of information is relevance. Depending on where the user is on the site certain information may be unnecessary and distracting. Keep messages relevant to the context of the functionality you are trying to introduce.
Build a conversation
Appropriately phrased messages help to emphasize actions that may be required from the user. If the tutorial is fairly long, after a certain number of steps people may tend to skip through a few. Right phrases can help indicate that there’s a certain response or action expected, such as a field input or a box checked.
Finally, tutorials are a good venue and an opportunity for branding. You can reinforce awareness of your product in your efforts to provide great customer experience. Good examples include placing a tip or a step of a tutorial on company assets (a logo or insignia), pointing to a function of a competitive advantage, rewards or badges. With aptly chosen text (company moto or a slogan) it helps to reinforce brand awareness. It’s easy to overdo it, so try to keep it classy.