Customer Success

Do your users need an interactive guide? Use our decision matrix to find out

January 20, 2015

The most common question we get asked in at Nickelled Towers is ‘how do I know if an interactive guide is right for my users’? And it is a good question and a multi-layered one that we will look at in a number of ways.

Today we‘ve created a Decision Matrix focused on the complexity of the online experience of the users. Note that we are not distinguishing between mobile and web and when referring to a ‘website’ we are at least intending to include the responsive layout in mobile formats. It’s just a mouthful to say every time.

To quickly define the terms we are using in the matrix, by 'complexity of website' we mean sites that are content heavy or require significant interaction with a user.

As to user experience level, this is related their expected levels of familiarity, training or skill in using a site like yours.

The result is the following Nickelled Decision Matrix which breaks the sites and users into 4 scenarios that we will look at in detail. By the way if you are curious as to why we think interactive guides are so useful then please follow our blog – this is a good place to start

Scenario 1: Complex website and inexperienced users

This is the scenario where making an interactive version of your website available to the user is always a good idea. You can think here of marketplaces for vendors, a registration and update area for affiliates, or a login area for suppliers or members.

A hotel owner for instance has no reason to be a experienced user of a hotel listing site but needs to list their accommodation. In this situation, an interactive guide can be a super way to guide them through the step-by-step process and lift the load on phone or email support that is significantly more expensive.

This tension between a requirement to gather or present a substantial amount of information AND a user base that is not a professional or frequent user of online tools can be a difficult one for customer experience and support professionals to resolve.

Interactive guides, as they are designed today, puts a remedy for that tension in the hands of the support team allowing them to construct simple solutions to the corner cases that represent the majority of user queries of issues in using the site.

Scenario 2: Complex website and experienced users

By an experienced user we’re not talking about a computer whizz here. We just mean that someone by training or by job role who frequently interacts with a given interface. Think of a professional vendor on Amazon who daily lists products, changes prices using either the native amazon tools or a professional listing tool.

An interactive guide here is not really useful for core procedures. These users are likely to have invested in formal or informal training so a guide would be redundant. However, there is one key exception to this and that is where the interface changes. Changing behaviour is often harder than adopting it in the first place and required changes are often delayed or abandoned for fear of leaving users behind.

Depending on the complexity of the change an interactive guide can either be part of the training solution or can even be the whole solution. In either case it provides a low cost way to show some entrenched users a new way of interacting with a service.

Scenario 3: Simple online experience and inexperienced users

There are some web journeys which are very straightforward, where the entire navigation and focus of the website is towards one or two actions. This covers the vast swathe of consumer sites and while the user needs no particular knowledge of a specific website or online experience as long as the site conforms to standard navigation and discovery the user should be OK.

So no need for a guide? Well, you would be surprised. The world of mobile and web users is a vast one and amongst there are levels of competence in using the web and mobile that can vary greatly. Ask yourself

  • does your support team consistently answer questions that appear to be really basic?
  • does your FAQ contain basic navigation questions?
  • does your FAQ have walkthroughs of certain user experiences?
  • are you seeing unexpected drop/off abandonment on certain pages or stages of the web process?

If these questions are not arising in your business then you are probably OK. If they are then there may be a very strong case for investigating whether in interactive version for certain users might be the simplest way to solve these problems.

Scenario 4: Simple online experience and experienced users

This is where we find reasonably straightforward web experiences focused on an audience who you would reasonably expect to be used to using sites like yours. For instance this would encompass the majority of SaaS marketing websites, or industry blogs like this one where the goal is to get trial sign-ups or subscribers from people who are used to operating in a B2B environment.

Now it might very well be that your company is experiencing some of the situations outlined in Scenario 3. And it is possible that these scenarios could be fixed or enhanced with an interactive version of your site. But in 99% of cases it is almost certain that you have a more deep-rooted navigation issue if people who could reasonably be expected to do so are not finding what they need on your web properties.

For SaaS companies in particular though, what happens after the sign-up might very well require interactive help as the user moves from the familiar to the new. This is onboarding of course and a big topic we will return to.


So we would love to hear your thoughts on our Decision Matrix. It is based on our clients our conversations and our experiences in the field and we certainly think it is a good start considering whether there are alternative ways to improve the journey for your users.

To keep up to date with other useful tools in this space and other random thoughts please subscribe to the blog or contact us if you would like to see an interactive guide at work on your site – we can build one in minutes.