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We are considering making our product's feature available as an add-on that websites can enable within themselves.

Any help with the following is appreciated:

  1. What are some effective ways of letting a user know they can perform a specific action anywhere on the website?

This is not meant as a feature in a usable platform (ex: "drag & drop files to upload in a file sharing site") but rather as a something to do on a content website (ex: "right click on any article to tweet").

  1. How to avoid the tip/notification/guide from being taken for an add popup (or a poll)?
  2. What are the pros and cons of a read-and-dismiss tutorial versus one that requires the action to be tried once?

Edited to finish explanation on #1

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I think you'll get better answers if you are more specific about the product. But from a UX purist perspective: If a feature is part of either the user or business goals, the feature should be obvious - no learning required. A right click is not obvious - good for expert features. A button saying 'Tweet' is. All tips/notifications/popups/read-and-dismiss are barriers unless they serve users and their goals. My Chrome just updated itself, and I had this dismiss message from google - took me an hour an a half before I had time to look at it. –  Izhaki Oct 1 '13 at 22:12
    
In principle, you're right. In practice, many projects are just too big, and you can't have a button visible for everything. –  puppybeard Nov 1 '13 at 9:43

2 Answers 2

I think a very good way of doing this is by means of an invite to users to try a new feature.

By presenting your feature as a new thing that you would like to invite your users to try you make it more tempting while also providing the user with the opportunity to leave things as they are if they are satisfied with the current website. By it's very nature an invite is different from a feedback poll or tip guide, it's more personal and anyone invited to do something feels more privileged.

An invite can be presented as a signpost in your website, a highlighted link in the header for example and can be backed up with calls to action in mail-shots or social media.

You can also use this as a means of taking feedback on the new feature from the users you are engaging the most. The ones who invest the most time and effort in your tool are the ones most likely to accept an invite. They are early adopters and may be able to provide excellent feedback.

A good example of this recently was google, who invited users to sign up to try the new google maps.

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That's a good notion Colin; although in this case it's more for content (news?) sites that users visit than a platform where they go do something and/or have an account with. Reaching out directly to users when they're not on the site wouldn't work. Do you have any further reference on how google invited users to try google maps? I'll look for it. –  eduardorh Oct 1 '13 at 20:20
    
I was thinking of sites with accounts, though there's no reason why it shouldn't work with anonymous users, a regular anonymous user might not be easily identifiable or possible to address personally but is likely to have enough investment in your site to respond to an invite –  ColinSharpe Oct 1 '13 at 20:23
    
Yeah, but for example I read a lot of tech blogs yet have accounts in almost none of them and therefore they have no way of reaching me directly. I'm a lurker in those, to use a reddit term. I'm trying to think of ways of addressing users like me in those sites; that said i do see some value in reaching only users engaged enough to have an account. –  eduardorh Oct 1 '13 at 20:26
    
the invite could be presented to all? (i.e. in the header for every visitor) You couldn't do a mailshot but you could still target social media followers. –  ColinSharpe Oct 1 '13 at 20:30
    
That's something I'm considering, which brings me the the 2nd question. I also just saw I forgot to finish a sentence. –  eduardorh Oct 1 '13 at 20:34

You could try using guiders, where a small box overlays the design and points to the feature being discussed. I'm in the process of adapting these into a project.

A cookie might be set once a user has viewed these so that they don't appear by default on subsequent visits.

http://jeffpickhardt.com/guiders/ <= example

https://github.com/jeff-optimizely/Guiders-JS <= project on GitHub

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