Mirko Tobias Schäfer / Assistant Professor
University of Utrecht Department for Media and Culture Studies

Getting the user on board

A plethora of different tools are supposed to help the user to get along with a certain software application. FAQs, Wikis, forums, read-me texts, tutorials, manuals and the documentation should help the user to set up and use the software. These tools are frequently provided in a misleading way and often difficult to understand. In discussion with software designer Patrick Kranzlmüller we asked whether a solution would be based on an improved information management system or on a different way of organizing the development process. The Austrian communication scientist Theo Hug pointed us to the terminology of Microlearning. In microlearning we recognized the teach yourself processes that are established practices in digital culture. But further more microlearning can offer a way to diminish the gap between users and developers.

In our article "RTFM! Teach-Yourself Culture in Open Source Software Projects" we evaluate tools used for documenting and explaining software and analyze how microlearning could offer a methodology for integrating the user and stimulating the teach yourself processes. In consequence a list of recommendations for software developers is provided. Communicating the complexity of software to users is not only a matter of information design but a social challenge, too.

2000 - 2022 Mirko Tobias Schäfer

made with Müller