Left and Right, or backwards and forwards?

Wizards. For better or worse, they are here to stay. You can name them something else (enter “Guidance Packages” stage right) but they’re a staple of modern applications. Personally I’m in two minds about them.

Pro:
They guide you through an unfamiliar process, often skipping the finer details completely.

Con:
The guide you through processes you already know well, skipping finer details you want to change.

Wizards need strong guidelines if they are to be useful, but they’re not always adhered to. The truth is, good wizards are hard to design.

I was looking at Taskbin.com the other day, and when I saw the homepage, I felt like I was in the middle of a wizard. Why? Because they had two links at the bottom of the page, one pointing left, the other pointing to the right.

However, on closer inspection (read: opening my eyes and turning my brain on) I realised that both links take you forwards. This has got me thinking. What if you designed software that would navigate you through it’s processes one decision at a time? Of course, the RPG world has had this for some time, but in business and home software terms it’s not something I’ve come across.

Now many systems might find it hard to keep each “screen” to 2 choices – left and right, but some sort of multiple choice (must be lean on the choices though) would still work.  Of course it has to be graphical so you feel like you’re actually moving around in the software, and maybe a breadcrumb trail would be helpful to review the choices you’ve made.

Has anyone worked on anything like this already?

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