In ideal human-computer interaction, technology should undertake most of the complex computing tasks, so that users can focus on more important and higher-level aspects: achieving goals. Until recently, however, the role of technology in providing user assistance was limited to displaying traditional online help prompts on a screen. However, as the technology becomes more and more powerful, it has even been able to automatically help users perform certain tasks by predicting their needs, reducing the cognitive load of users.
Proactive user assistance can be very useful if used well. On the contrary, it may disturb the user, or even send the wrong information or superfluous. Remember the popular paperclip assistant Clippy in Windows 95? There's nothing more frustrating than a b2b data system assistant who keeps popping up out of the blue and making out-of-the-box suggestions.
The purpose of anticipatory design is to provide a better user experience by predicting user needs. Then, from the perspective of the user's interests, it automatically helps users make appropriate decisions and actions.
Unfortunately, most of the current technology can't do it. Unlike human services, which can improve themselves by observing words and constantly learning from mistakes, most technologies are still stuck in blindly making mistakes and making mistakes. If the technology is not advanced enough to provide the right help at the right time, it might be better to do nothing at all.
In this article, I will introduce 5 different levels of user assistance services and explore their pros and cons.
5 levels of user assistance
Technology can provide users with at least the following five levels of services:
Passively display help content. "Help is here, you need it yourself"
Proactively ask users if they need help. "Can I help you with anything?"
Proactively advise users ahead of time and give them the option to accept or ignore. "Is this what you want? You can also click here to edit"
Alert the user that an action is about to be taken automatically unless the user says no. "I'm about to do this, do you agree?"
Automatically make some kind of decision for the user without asking the user for their opinion. "I've done it for you, you don't have to worry"
1. Passively present help content
Help here, need yourself
Presenting traditional help content or introductions is the least intrusive method for users. Those who need it can easily get it, and those who don't need it can be ignored. In the real world, this is the equivalent of an information desk in an airport or a salesperson in a store. They are there to help you.