When people think of user education in products, they’re often thinking of certain set of UI patterns. In some cases, these patterns can be helpful. But, in most other cases, the patterns are overused and applied inappropriately to many situations. They quickly become anti-patterns.
I’ve illustrated that slippery slope by drawing these “patterns” as if they were Pokemon evolutions. You know, when a seemingly harmless pattern can turn into a formidable beast.
Carouhell > Autopuh-lays > Sideshow
From carousels, to auto-playing videos, to lengthy slideshows, we often see products increasingly attempting to serve up attention-grabbing content. The more aggressive and front-loaded these things get, the less appealing they become.
Cooltip > Drooltips > Encroachmarks
The occasional tooltip can be helpful, especially if it appears in direct response to a user’s action. But they can quickly grow out of control. Sometimes they come in packs, in the form of walkthroughs, or clumped together as a blocking overlay called “coachmarks.” These things force someone to memorize UI instructions without addressing the underlying issues.
Chat-o-the-wisp > Chatling > Bantershee
Many different plugins make it easy for businesses to add customer service bots to their websites that float at the bottom of the user’s screen. While exposing an entry point to a help agent can get customers to information faster, these things have evolved to proactively push messages.
Cookie peek > Cookie sheet > Cookie eat
Overlay > Overload
And, finally, overlays. Easy to implement, but oh-so-easy to lose track of until they all suddenly collide at one time. There’s not often an in-between state.