Why people don’t use the “Tip of the day”

Seemed like such a good idea at the time…that “Tip of the Day” thing that you see in your favorite software.

Like Microsoft’s Clippy, everyone seems to either ignore or despise this function.

I think folks genuinely liked the idea at first. Yet…when it comes down to actually using a program’s tip of the day feature, I usually see people turning it off or just ignoring it. I’m the same way. The info is usually not so helpful.

The reason is pretty obvious once you think about it.

What normally happens

As you know, tip of the day content is (always?) displayed when a program is opened.

As a result, it’s very rarely in context with what you’re doing. When you open a program, it’s usually because you need to perform a specific task. You’re focused on that task – only to be sidetracked by this tip that has nothing to do with the task at hand.

Think about this – have you *ever* read a tip of the day and ran down the hall to another user of the same program and said “Holy moly, have you tried THIS????”

I’ll bet you haven’t.

What would make tip-of-the-day worth doing

Imagine being in the middle of a complex (or new to you) process on the computer and pausing to think for a minute because – as always – this function is complex or confusing or makes you think or whatever.

15 or 30 or however many seconds later, an in-context perfect-timing-kinda-tip appears in the corner of the screen (totally out of your way – but visible).

If that tip was like a bright light in a dark forest…you’d tell someone. And they’d appreciate it.

Where they come from matters

Imagine if tips were actually info that you’d want to use. Say…tidbits from your internal end-users of the product – perhaps even **oh my goodness** tips from actual customers who use your program. They’re the ones who actually use this thing day in and day out to make a living, they might actually have a piece of useful advice, ya think?

That would be far more preferable to the current source of tips : they tend to come from some poor schlep who pounded them into the program just so they could say that they had entered them. We’ve all seen ’em. Yawn.

Social proof for tips

If software authors wanted to add a social proof aspect to their tips, provide a voting capability (useful for experts, useful for new users, not useful at all, incorrect).

The program could sense your level of expertise by how long tasks take, the amount of time you’ve spent using the program, or the number of times you’ve used this particular part of the program.

Suddenly, I’d see the best tips for me, from other users, based on my level of expertise for this part of the program.

All kinds of opportunity to teach and learn could come from this. Your programming team could learn a lot from this as well.

Are your tips of the day being ignored?

All post long, I’ve been talking about how a tip of the day feature gets ignored because the software delivers the wrong message at the wrong time, and how it could be improved by delivering in-context tips that *actually help*.

Interestingly, the same concept works with your marketing (and elsewhere)… Speak in context or you’re likely to be ignored.

Maybe that was a little sneaky – but do you want people treating your marketing messages like you treat the tip-of-the-day?