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Adaptive Tutorial User Experience for IBM Lotus Notes Domino Apps - Intro

... because The Princess can't help you collaborate with your team! You may have previously read my posts on Progressive Enhancement in application development (i.e., coding the UX and non-critical functionality on specific Client type features and capabilities) but what is the next step for apps from a UI and UX standpoint?

While chatting with Tim yesterday -- who was excitedly sharing his tales of Ripley-esc dashing of so-many Stormtroopers whilst playing Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II on his Wii -- I began forming a seedling for an idea of what that next step might be.

Tim was discussing how the gaming engine -- instead of walking you through a tutorial or (egads!) making you read something -- worked the game control tutorial into the storyline.

An example of this would be a level 0.5 that is critical to the story. Let's say your character crash-lands on an alien planet and this level 0.5 introduction has you navigating your character through getting out of the spaceship, crossing the red-rock terrain, and eventually getting you inside the mining colony building so you can be eaten/incubated by some H.R. Gigerian nightmare....

This level 0.5 will quickly teach you how to use each button on your controller (at least those specifically needed at the early levels of the game), and [the best ones] do so without making it feel like you've spent the first 10 minutes of gameplay walking through a tutorial.

So what does this have to do with IBM Lotus Notes Domino Application Development?

See... I have this idea. What if we start creating a level 0.5 in our applications?

... I'll explain.

The majority of your applications have 30+ UI Controls and Fields. Adding user-facing directions for even a subset of those UI Controls and Fields makes even the most elegant form look like a cluttered nightmare.

A level 0.5 approach to this type of application might very well be a wizard-driven process that sits on-top of your 30+ UI. Instead of having the help information constantly on-screen (and thus taking up screen real estate), why not have context-sensitive information popups and heads-up interactive displays that layer over the UI in an attempt to guide the user through the 30+ UI submission process.

So when are you done with level 0.5? That depends, I'd think. You could rather easily create a user profiling engine within your apps that track how many submissions that user has completed within a given time, and you could easily weigh that data against an admin-defined threshold.

Simply put, set a milestone that the user must complete (let's say) 3 submissions within the next 2 months. After the 2 months, let's say you lose 1 submission credit per month. This will give you a rolling milestone that will allow active-users of your app to quickly ditch the Adaptive Tutorial HUD layering of the 30+ UI while giving your more occasional users constant refersher-courses on how to complete the given submission.

I'm going to try to put this idea in-app and create a proof of concept... but if done right, I'm thinking this practice could be an easy-to-adopt best practices standard for IBM Lotus Notes Domino (or any platform, really...) application development.

About the author: Chris Toohey

Thought Leadership, Web & Mobile Application Development, Solutions Integration, Technical Writing & Mentoring

A published developer and webmaster of, Chris Toohey specializes in platform application development, solutions integration, and evangelism of platform capabilities and best practices.

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