Principle 6

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6. Does not require prior knowledge to use

A service should not work in a way that assumes any prior knowledge from the user

What this means in practice

The service is equally as findable and usable by someone with no prior knowledge of the service as it is by someone who does have previous experience.

You’ve achieved this when

A user with no knowledge of your service can use your service as well as someone who has used it before.

How to do it

Make sure your service is findable

This means understanding when and how a user might look for support and what words they use to look for it

For more details, see principle 1

Clearly explain what your service is for

Someone with no knowledge of your organisation or service is still likely to have a clear idea of what they need when they use your service. Your service will need to quickly explain what it is to your user and how it will help them achieve what they’re looking to do.

For more details, see principle 2

Make no presumptions about how much your user knows

Do not presume any knowledge or experience of either your service or services like it. Conduct a thorough review to see if there are any presumptions in your service.

Make a list of these and work out how many you need to change or, if you can’t change, explain them to your users.

Work in a way that’s familiar

There will be some ways of working that will be so ubiquitous that to step outside of them would cause confusion. You will only be able to tell which are which by doing enough user research with a diverse group to know which ones ‘most people’ understand.

For more details, see principle 5

Work in a way that’s agnostic to organisational structures

Navigating organisational structures while trying to understand your service can be one of the most difficult things for users with no prior experience of your service to do as it requires a level of orientation, while trying to get to their destination. Somewhat like using a new type of map for each journey. Make sure your service can be used without knowing or understanding who is providing it.

For more details, see principle 7

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