« Back to Publications list

Beyond “One-Size-Fits-All”: Understanding the Diversity in How Software Newcomers Discover and Make

For most modern feature-rich software, considerable external help and learning resources are available on the web (e.g., documentation, tutorials, videos, Q&A forums). But, how do users new to an application discover and make use of such resources? We conducted in-lab and diary studies with 26 software newcomers from a variety of different backgrounds who were all using Fusion 360, a 3D modeling application, for the first time. Our results illustrate newcomers’ diverse needs, perceptions, and help-seeking behaviors. We found a number of distinctions in how technical and non-technical users approached help-seeking, including: when and how they initiated the help-seeking process, their struggles in recognizing relevant help, the degree to which they made coordinated use of the application and different resources, and in howthey perceived the utility of different help formats. We discuss implications for moving beyond "one-size-fits-all" help resources towards more structured, personalized, and curated help and learning materials.


Kiani, K., Cui, G., Bunt, A., McGrenere, J., and Chilana, P.(2019) Beyond “One-Size-Fits-All”: Understanding the diversity and challenges in how software newcomers discover and make use of external help resources, Proceedings of CHI 2019, the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 340, 13 pages.

Related Projects

Software learning


Andrea Bunt

Andrea Bunt


As well as: Kimia Kiani, George Cui, Joanna McGrenere and Parmit Chilana