Confidence-increasing elements in user instructions: Seniors' reactions to verification steps and personal stories

Nicole Loorbach, Joyce Karreman, Michaël Steehouder

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Purpose: Research shows that confidence-increasing elements in user instructions positively influence senior users' task performance and motivation. We added verification steps and personal stories to user instructions for a cell phone, to find out how seniors (between 60 and 70 years) perceive these confidence-increasing motivational elements. Verification steps allow users to check if a procedure was carried out correctly. Personal stories describe how a fictitious user succeeded in completing a procedure.

    Method: The plus-minus method was used. Participants were asked to place pluses and minuses in cell phone user instructions to indicate their positive and negative reading experiences, and to explain their choices afterwards.

    Results: Verification steps are regarded as other, common parts of user instructions by seniors. Nineteen out of 20 participants appreciate verification steps, and they mainly encourage providing these because they are expected to decrease doubts, and increase user confidence and satisfaction. Personal stories tend to stand out compared to other, common parts of user instructions. Thirteen out of 20 participants appreciate personal stories, which use is mainly discouraged for redundancy reasons, and encouraged for their expected positive effects on user confidence and motivation.

    Conclusion: The use of verification steps and personal stories in user instructions seems acceptable to seniors. As a next step, it seems worth it to test for effects of these motivational elements on usability, user confidence and motivation
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)190-204
    Number of pages15
    JournalTechnical communication
    Volume60
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Keywords

    • METIS-298013
    • IR-87406
    • Plus-minus method
    • Motivation
    • Confidence
    • Seniors
    • User instructions

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