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Vaijayanti Nerkar, BMC Software
August 1, 2022

In recent years, rich media has grown to be a popular method of delivering end-user information. In this article, we describe what rich media consists of; discuss what influences decisions for choosing rich media, and analyze whether more rich media results in better end-user satisfaction. 

What is rich media?

Rich media includes deliverables that encourage user interaction and provide a more engaging user experience. Some common rich media deliverables are infographics, videos, diagrams, guided tours, and tutorials.

How do we decide the best rich media delivery?

Consider a scenario where we’re explaining how to create a helpdesk ticket for a ticketing software that is an on-premises installation. After evaluating the correct way to deliver this information, we plan to create a quick 30-second video. However, if the ticketing software has in-application help, we may decide to deliver the information through a guided tour instead of a video.

In this scenario, the use case creating a helpdesk ticket influences our decision of selecting an appropriate delivery medium. The product installation method does not affect our decision of selecting the delivery medium.

When delivering information for install or upgrade use cases, we might consider product installation methods such as on-premises or cloud-based. Based on the complexity of the user goals, we can identify the right delivery format for these use cases.

Sometimes we think that customers expect more visual-based information for cloud-based products than for on-premises products. This is not necessarily true. If an on-premises product installation is simple, a video could be a good way to deliver this information. Discarding rich media as a possible delivery medium based solely on deployment method might not be the right decision.

Now let’s consider a scenario where we need to deliver information for a simple application installed on a mobile phone that is predominantly UI-based. For a simple product that has a straightforward user goal, our information can be delivered through short videos or infographics.

Conversely, let’s look at a situation where we need to deliver information for a multitiered application such as banking software or insurance software. Such complex products usually have multiple user roles and complex user goals. It is not always possible and it is not recommended to deliver information for these complex user goals only through rich media. For a well-rounded user experience, we need to break down the information into smaller goals and deliver it through a blend of rich media and text-based documentation.

Based on the examples discussed above, we can conclude that user goals and the information needed for these goals drive our decisions to deliver information through rich media, text, or both. The deployment methods or product complexities do not always influence our decisions in choosing our delivery mediums.

How much rich media should we include?

It is easy to believe that end-user satisfaction is higher if we deliver more rich media.

If we choose a rich media deliverable that doesn’t properly support the user goals and therefore the type of information we’re communicating, it might result in a negative end-user experience. An appropriate delivery format emerges when we take a closer look at the type of information that we want to deliver. For example, short procedures are best explained through quick How-to videos, whereas long processes are best explained by using process flow diagrams followed by some detailed text-based information.

When we deliver information through visuals, it is easy to go overboard. After we identify an appropriate delivery medium, it is important to not repeat the same information through multiple rich media deliverables.

Let’s summarize

More rich media does not guarantee more end-user satisfaction. Creating rich media deliverables for use cases that don’t need them might result in a negative end-user experience.

A good balance of the right visuals and text makes the information easier to consume and enhances the end-user experience.