Simplified UI GIFs as Procedural User Assistance

In introducing robust, drag-and-drop, analytical designer functionality, Blackbaud faced a common refrain from users: They found the tool powerful and easy to use, but only after overcoming the initial challenge of determining where and how to begin. As this feature was being introduced across numerous solutions with a diverse cross-section of users, this posed an additional challenge for Blackbaud, as the “blank slate syndrome” was something best solved in a one-size-fits-all way. Enter a new user assistance pattern: Animated of simplified UI (SUI) GIFs. With these SUI GIFs, designed using Adobe Creative Cloud, Blackbaud could abstract the potentially distracting and confusing data from the messaging to quickly show how to use the tool in a minimal number of easy-to-consume, product-agnostic steps (starting with where to begin), via a Quick Start resource developed with an in-house, Angular2-based, single-page application (SPA) generator. Confirmed with feedback and usage by early adopters, the Quick Start met its mark, engaging users with an easy-to-understand and consumable content that conveyed the simplicity of the tool and shortening the learning curve by overcoming the question of the starting point. Based on that same feedback, Blackbaud was also able to iterate with minor tweaks to easily guide users to more product-specific content with ‘recipes’ for insights commonly created within the various solutions.

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