Author: Kiani, Kimia
For most modern feature-rich software, considerable external help and learning resources are available on the web (e.g., documentation, tutorials, videos, Q&A forums). But, how do users new to an application discover and make use of such resources? We conducted in-lab and diary studies with 26 software newcomers from a variety of different backgrounds who were all using Fusion 360, a 3D modeling application, for the first time. Our results illustrate newcomers’ diverse needs, perceptions, and help-seeking behaviors. We found a number of distinctions in how technical and non-technical users approached help-seeking, including: when and how they initiated the help-seeking process, their struggles in recognizing relevant help, the degree to which they made coordinated use of the application and different resources, and in how they perceived the utility of different help formats. We also created customized visualizations of our newcomers’ navigation patterns between the 3D modeling application and help resources and evaluated our initial visualization design with software developers. We discuss implications for moving beyond “one-size-fits-all” help resources towards more structured, personalized, and curated help and learning materials.
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Thesis advisor: Chilana, Parmit
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