Software that Teaches

There is an old saying:

“Give a man a fish, and you’ve fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed a man for a lifetime”

Too much of our software simply gives people a fish instead of teaching them how to fish. That is, most software acts as a dumb tool…can do a particular thing but doesn’t teach how to use it well.

But teaching is increasingly part of the deal…if you’re building software you might consider how to teach people to be better at what your software does. Not only give them a tool to do something simply, but actually teaches them a way to do it better.

Some software helps you organize your stuff merely by giving you an improved structure:

  • iTunes – Stores your music for you in logical ways (by artist, album, etc)
  • Salesforce – Organizes your sales process by specifying lead strength.

But some apps take it step further, actually teaching you better ways to work. This is the software of the future.

  • Mint – Teaches you how budgeting works and how to be better at saving money.
  • Campaign Monitor – Teaches you how to be good at email marketing and designing emails
  • Google Adwords – Teaches you how to run efficient ad campaigns

Software is easy to build and distribute. It’s easy to simply give it to someone and hope they figure it out and possess enough reason to use it well. But this type of software will eventually die out, replaced with software that teaches you how to get better at the activity for which it is designed.

Joshua Porter – 52 Weeks of  UX

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