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While working in Behavior Change product, it’s usual for us to hear:

“I want the user to learn X and then put it into practice.” or “I’ve tried to add an education section where I explain everything they need to know, but they don’t seem to be getting it.” Here is the deal, users won’t read your lengthy text walls. They just won’t.

This forces us to find a way to deliver knowledge required to make the most out of the product. In everyday use, we create tutorials, introduce the complexities one by one and train while using the product itself. But there is a particular case I want to discuss, what happens when you will only follow these instructions once, or there is no actual way of using the product.

Most things we learn; we learn by doing them. But, in this case, is just not possible. A plane pilot cannot afford to make mistakes while he is in charge of hundreds of lives and you cannot train an astronaut in space to go to Space. Let’s say you have a product for flat tires, how do you explain to the user how to use it without a flat tire? How do you learn how to deal with an unhappy customer without potentially hurting a customer feelings? There are regular situations that are to either too high risk to fail or are so rare that you don’t even know if you will be facing the situation. You could try to make it so simple that you don’t have to learn anything to succeed, but sometimes simple it’s not possible. In those cases, you train using a simulation.

This strategy empowers the user that instead of receiving a bunch of information he gets to experience the rare occurrence, first hand, without any actual risk. Simulations allow products to train users instead of lecture them. It’s easy to imagine for a plane pilot using a simulator trying to save a plane with a broken wing. But there are many ordinary situations were this apply. Traffic police stop your car, how do you cope with that situation? That policeman has a manual of standard procedures to follow, and they train for the situation, Why shouldn’t you?

AR and VR open new possibilities for simulations and training. Train your users for domestic fires, let them experience their first electronic voting experience and prevent them messing up the ballot or help them prepare for giving a lecture. There are many possibilities for this types of approaches let me know if this article has inspired any new products!

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