The Challenges of Creating Customized Online Guidance & Ways to Overcome Them

My Co-Worker Needs Help Online

Here’s an all-too-common scenario,(one that I can personally relate to):  Our CFO wants to transfer money between accounts. While he’s brave enough to attempt the online transfer, he is struggling to figure out how to proceed in the complex website. Of course, he has two options: either he asks IT to show him how, or he simply gives up, saying that he will call the banker to complete the money transfer  in the morning.

Walkthrough: the Magic Word 

It’s a digital world: we purchase online, we manage our time and we work online. The ‘Creators’ of our online life are User Experience specialists, who are constantly looking for ways to innovate, to provide an experience that is personal and efficient, easy, yet with a wide range of options. To do this, they’ve turned to online guidance to ‘hold the hand’ of their users; walkthroughs, in particular, is an option that is being utilized more and more. Walkthroughs provide a multi-step sequence of instructional assistance that assist website user in performing an online action.

Beyond Just Design

It is not easy- When tackling issues of creating guidance walkthroughs, one has to look beyond the design challenges and look at the challenges of operating walkthroughs and the content within them.

Every online business faces the same challenge – How do I create an online user experience that keeps my customers coming back for more? This article will focus on the challenges of online guidance customization and ways to overcome these barriers.

One-Click Capture of the Website’s Insides 

In order to provide a time-efficient and comprehensive analysis of a web page’s display, you need a smart editor, which can – with one click – capture the entirety of the element to which the walkthrough is connected. The same one-click capture understands dynamic pages, the many variables that go into any page, and more.

Take an e-commerce site as an example. A user begins at the homepage, then searches for a particular item or category  (such as clothing) and is then brought to a new page. S/he then clicks on an item, bringing him/her to a new page.

The challenge is that different pages have different structures- image size and location often differs.  The one-click capture capability overcomes this challenge, and is – from the technical side – also easier and more user-friendly than constant reprogramming that a not-so-smart walkthrough editor might use.

Condition Building & Sub-Processes

Another question arises: Can you build conditions to different scenarios without new programming?  Websites are complex; with each click, a user proceeds on a unique journey.

To illustrate this challenge, let’s analyze a widely used business software, similar to Salesforce. An Enterprise using Salesforce as its CRM platform has a wide diversity of users with different user profiles, different permission sets, and a different set of goals. While two users might be working on a similar task- like “create an opportunity”- but for these different users the web pages look different. As each user advances to a new page, the process branches out into different directions. Walkthrough editors need to customize and build conditions for each scenario- an “if this, then that” way of planning when and which walkthrough will appear.

A condition builder is an important editing tool that enables UX managers to set one or more conditions that will influence the flow of the walkthrough. It’s also important for the condition builder to be simple to use- even when building complex conditions. (Bonus- the condition builder can display visually appealing walkthroughs and provide multi-language support.)

Customization to Each User

Next challenge: no two users are identical. It’s important that the user experience is customized so that the user receives personal attention and a unique experience. A user’s history on a page- particularly when there is a log-in required (such as a bank website, e-commerce site, etc.) can provide major leverage in planning walkthroughs.

The walkthrough platform should be able to track users based on their profile, what actions they took on the site, their location, language, and other elements.

A/B Testing

Looking at another concern: Does the solution enable website and UX managers to conduct AB testing to identify what works best and how to optimize it?

AB Testing allows for the development of variations in the way your users experience online guidance, and then decide what percentage of the users see different variations. You will then be able to view and analyze data from the different types of users and make a more informed decision about the design of your guides.

A common challenge is that A/B testing takes A LOT of work and requires a high amount of time and resources. Often, part of the software has to be adapted to it. It’s important when choosing a solution that the solution enables A/B Testing in a manner that is efficient and easy.

Security Standards Compliance

Websites of business with high security regulations, such financial service (or a service that is used by large enterprises that are sensitive to security requirements), must have walkthrough solutions that adhere to these standards. This includes making sure that it is impossible to inject malicious spyware or viruses, hack into sensitive user details, etc. Especially with platforms that cater to enterprise customers, it is critical that they comply with the strictest security standards and be certified by a 3rd party security firm, in order to testify to the strict standards it follows. Whether a solution enables “Single sign on” is another important factor when evaluating a solution’s security score.


In summation, delivering specific walkthroughs to specific people according to their profile and preferences, requires an extremely agile yet powerful editor. But when done correctly the experience is unrivaled.

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Jessica is the Lead Author & Editor of UsabilityLab Blog. Jessica writes for the UsabilityLab blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to usability.