Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Avoid dead-ends. Let me say that again: avoid dead-ends. I recently watched a demo where the presenter explored what seemed to be all possible potential pathways to complete a single task. What could have been completed in about 30 seconds – about 5 mouse clicks – took 24 minutes!

The presenter pursued two sets of non-productive pathways:

- Alternative approaches (“…and another way to do this is to…”)
- Dead-ends (“…but for this example we won’t do that and instead we’ll go back to where we were a moment ago…”)

The end result was a Stunningly Awful Demo, perceived as too complicated, too convoluted, and too complex by the audience.

When you have the option to present a range of pathways or related capabilities, choose the highest probability pathway for the customer at hand and execute that pathway with the fewest number of steps to complete the task.

To be fair, there may be situations where some of these alternative approaches or dead-ends may be useful or even important. An excellent way to test for interest in exploring any alternative approaches or capabilities represented by dead-ends is to ask.

For example, “Are you interested in seeing how you can do this task using the menus instead of the wizard we just used?”

Or, “We have a number of other output options – are there any output formats that you would like to see in particular?”

Otherwise, avoid alternative approaches and dead-ends…!

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