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I'm the product guy for a fantasy sports gaming website. We often find that we need to give people basic rules to get started playing the games, but people always skip reading and try to dive right in, and then get confused. We tried yellow alert boxes (e.g. sticky notes) to grab their attention, but that isn't effective enough.

How can I encourage people to read important information if they just want to dive right in?

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Do you have an images/mockups that could help provide more context for this question? –  JeffH Jul 19 '12 at 19:16
    
@JeffH We actually have it live here I just didn't want this to look like it was self-promotion. Does that help? Thanks! –  acconrad Jul 19 '12 at 19:43
    
Could you show them a short video with a voiceover ? (maybe even MAKE them watch the video before they can dive in ) –  PhillipW Jul 19 '12 at 22:09
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No one likes to read, especially if there are already pictures. –  Mitch Jul 20 '12 at 3:22

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Sounds like you need to get creative with your form design. Having played FF for years, I know how intricate a league setup can be, so keeping some space to the right or left of the form for helpful messaging (possibly using tooltip hovers or focus-dependent help bubbles) seems like it'd be the most appropriate course of action.

I'd suggest watching/listening to a presentation that Luke Wroblewski did a few years ago at MIX on Web Form Design. He gets into pretty good detail about how to make a form as easy to use without overwhelming a user. I've linked the presentation below.

http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/MIX/MIX09/C17F

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+1 started watching that presentation, he's very entertaining to listen to! –  AndroidHustle Jul 20 '12 at 7:24
    
By the way he has a website with a bunch of presentations about user interface design for anyone who is interested. –  AndroidHustle Jul 20 '12 at 8:55

Here are 3 tried and tested ways:

  1. Incremental exposure. Don't hit them with the whole book all at once. If they see a long list of tedious statements, they'll be put off. Break it up into manageable chunks, offering milestones along the way (e.g. progress meters, check-points, targets). Perhaps progression in understanding the rules can be factored into the game mechanic.

  2. Keep it fresh. Whilst ensuring some continuity, vary the way the rule is presented each time, then people are less likely to ignore it because they recognise it as a chore. This isn't really trickery, it's appealing to people's need to be stimulated into performing necessary but unappealing tasks. You said it yourself that people aren't digging the post-its; the ease of recognition, and unappealing information (i.e. play restriction) kills enthusiasm when you know the reward for reading it is knowing what you can and can't do.

  3. Reward their effort. A gold star puts a smile on most faces, as does a happy sound or chequered flag, but you can be less patronising than that; less invasive help overlays would be subtle and strong (i.e. don't try to keep prodding them with it if they've already read it).

Blending these ideas into your instruction should make it more engaging and less of a chore to digest (aah, how fickle our focus is!).

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If users skip to the "fun" part, then you'll either have to make the rules slogging fun (as others have pointed out) or make the rules more incremental (thanks to other posters). The key recommendation that may have been implied by others is to take small chunks of rules (say one rule at a time) and make them interstitial and contextual - embed them right into the UX at the first point when that rule is essential.

I think of the first-round tutorial in many online and electronic games - it is a "show me" rather than "tell me" mechanic, engaging the user in what is usually an obvious (but more enjoyable) attempt to make sure the user has been exposed to the critical actions/rules. From there, additional rules/actions/options are introduced to the user the first time they're available in the game.

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The less you will write - the more people will read.

IMHO yellow bubbles is good. But give only necessary (minimal and relevant) information at one period of time.

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