When I was a kid, every tech product came with a paper manual the size of a paperback novel. This even applied to consumer software like drawing packages and word-processors. Sometimes we even had to read parts of the manual to figure out how to make things work.

This obviously doesn’t happen any more, and people rightly expect to be able to figure out how to use your product without reading instructions. There are implications for your product design:

  • Convention: your users expect your product to work like all the other similar products that they have used. Even if your new interface idea is objectively “better” than the standard approach, it is usually better to stick with the convention.

  • Consistency: Your product needs to be predictable. Every time you press button X, the same thing should happen. Every time you press a button that looks like button X, a similar thing should happen.

  • Safety: the user is going to figure out how to use your product by poking it until it does what they want. You need to shield them from breaking things while they are learning.

    This could mean interlocks on a physical product or confirmation prompts (“are you sure you want to delete the internet?”) in software. Even better is to eliminate the risk altogether - for example you could remove the button that deletes data if this isn’t essential functionality.