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I work on software for brain-injured folks. So it's a delicate balance between showing lots of help (because they have difficulty understanding even a simple interface) and showing too much help (and it overwhelms them).

One approach we've used is to show a tip with an "x" to close the tip.

But many users don't see the "x" or know what to do.

So I am considering this approach:

IF NotUsedThisFeature (FeatureName, DaysSinceLastUsed*) then ShowTip

This is for where we could expect with 99% certainty that they'd be using this feature a couple of times every $DaysSinceLastUsed days.

  • DaysSinceLastUsed could also be LOGINS I suppose. But the reality is that if it's been 30 days since they used the program or 30 days since they used the feature, then they have probably forgotten the feature.

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  • Is the only problem that they don't see/understand the X? I mean, is we solve this, will there be any more need for tip delay as you suggested?
    – Yoav Moran
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 22:15
  • A tangent...also give users the ability to turn off the "DaysSinceLastUsed" feature altogether. Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 9:17

2 Answers 2

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One approach we've used is to show a tip with an "x" to close the tip.

But many users don't see the "x" or know what to do.

Perhaps the issue you should address first is changing the "x" to something your users find more intuitive. Is it possible to put the word phrase "Close" or "Close Tip" on the tip itself?

What do users do in the situation where they don't know how to close the tip?

  • Do they tap/click on the tip itself?
  • Do they tap/click away from it?

If so, consider making the program respond to those gestures to hide the tips instead of requiring that they click the X. You could do this in addition to keeping the X button for the users who know how to use it.

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I'm not surprised that brain-injured folk have trouble connecting the x with close - it's a fairly subtle symbol, not seen in other spheres of life. X is more often seen as either "this is the spot" or "needs or has suffered destruction" (which is close, but too ambiguous).

For those who still have the ability to read and comprehend written language, I'd do drill-and-practice with them to connect the x with closing the tip.

I'd also add a tooltip to the tooltip, to appear after some reasonable interval: "click x to close the tooltip [or whatever you're calling it]"

Providing a tip only after n days of feature non-use unfortunately ignores those who will need the tip more often, especially those for whom the loss of cognitive connection happens irregularly based on other factors in their life.

You might consider lengthening the time before a tip appears, based on whether the tip appeared to have been used the time before, or some n times before. If it wasn't used (based on action too soon after the tip's appearance to have contributed to the action), then a gradual lengthening, with de-lengthening based on the wait time before action. So if someone doesn't act within the usual time, that's taken as a need for a shorter time-to-tip, or even a reversion to short latency.

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