April 26, 2024
min read

Game Design For Enterprise Software: Walkthroughs

In the process of enterprise software onboarding there can often be a mix of approaches taken including through training sessions, self-learning and microlearning. In the world of video games, the walkthrough is a commonly used approach that has proven effective at teaching users. Walkthroughs can deliver large amounts of information in a modular manner that skills users up over time and with digital adoption platforms they are now easier than ever to implement.

Written by

Marc Chia

Enterprise software onboarding can often be a frustrating experience for both trainers and learners. Long training sessions often lead to low memory retention and plenty of struggles when the time comes to actually use the software product. In contrast games often have little struggle in teaching users what are sometimes very complex game mechanics.

One of the core approaches they take to enable this is the wallkthrough which can deliver large amounts of information in a modular manner that skills users up over time. Walkthroughs are a technique that can be used in enterprise software and with digital adoption platforms they are now easier than ever to implement.

What Is A Walkthrough?

The walkthrough usually works in games by pausing the user experience of the game world. It does so that it can deliver large amounts of information usually through a mix of text, images and videos that explain new mechanics to players. The benefits of a walkthrough are that it is able to provide large amounts of information, usually in a on the rails experience designed to skill up the user in progressive steps. On the flip side walkthroughs that are overly long can be annoying as it disrupts the experience of usage and walkthroughs by themselves do not guarantee the user truly understands.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT uses a series of walkthroughs as a tutorial on game mechanics.

In this example, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT was a game which challenged the basic fundamentals of what people expected out of a final fantasy game. Users required a new paradigm of game mechanics and the onboarding had to reflect that. At the start of the game Dissidia Final Fantasy NT contains a walkthrough of different game mechanics and control. The wall of text and instructions explains the execution of a key game mechanic and the user is then prompted to demonstrate their understanding of the new mechanic.

This walkthrough is part of the tutorial section of the game. Essentially the walkthrough is part of a series of walkthroughs that collectively create an on the rails experience for a new user. This on the rails experience is designed to equip the new user with the basics of how to go about playing in the game world in order to start completing their first tasks.

Walkthroughs are commonly used in games featuring some level of complexity in game mechanics. In contrast simple games often come with no walkthroughs at all.

Super Mario teaches the user core game mechanics through level design.

Take for example the classic Super Mario where the user learns all about jumping, headbutting tiles, collecting powerups and testing out plumbing all without any text-based instruction. In this case the level design of the starting level and the space and opportunity to try and fail with minimal consequences means this is fairly effective. This is only possible for very simple and straightforward applications with a minimal amount of complexity.

Another feature of walkthroughs is how easily they can be skipped or whether they are un-skippable. This is a choice made and it can be important as walkthroughs may be annoying for experienced users. They can also have the same effect if overly long or if not well designed. In some instances though having un-skippable walkthroughs can serve the purpose of creating a baseline user level of proficiency at the cost of some minor annoyance. This is a conscious choice that has to be made by each team.

Walkthroughs For Enterprise Software

The key takeaways for enterprise software is that in designing the onboarding experience some thought should be put into who is the type of user before deciding if walkthroughs are a good fit. The level of complexity is a key consideration. Even on the same piece of software such as an e-signing platform. A person administering signatures may have to deal with a complex process which might benefit from a walkthrough as opposed to a signatory for whom reviewing and signing is a straight forward process. A similar thought process has to be behind whether each walkthrough should be skippable.

While walkthroughs can be useful, enabling them on any software application has traditionally been quite a challenge. When applied to enterprise software, walkthroughs can now be added in one of 2 main ways. The first and most traditional method is by having a software engineering team focused on designing and maintaining the onboarding experience. A dedicated team like that can create much more integrated and focused flows that run smoothly. The down sides are that running such a team is costly in terms of both money and time spent. Applications at extremely large scale would likely befit from such an approach but all others can consider our next approach.

In recent years, walkthroughs can be created on software platforms through the use of no code/low code digital adoption platforms. This allows anyone including a customer success manager, knowledge manager or customer service officer to generate walkthroughs within the application with minimal fuss. Walkthroughs made in this manner can rival the efforts of the best development teams and further can turn a 2-week development sprint cycle for an onboarding flow into a matter of minutes.

Arguably digital adoption platforms also put the power to control onboarding experiences in the hands of those that know user needs best. Customer success/knowledge management/customer service are usually the departments that know the users best and are best able to craft effective messaging with the right tools


Walkthroughs can be a really effective tool for enterprise SaaS onboarding. The appropriateness of walkthroughs and the length of each walkthrough experience is one that must be carefully chosen. In the current state of enterprise software, the problem is often that there are little to no walkthroughs rather than that walkthroughs are not well designed. This is a huge problem in terms of user adoption and could benefit from a little more focus and attention by product managers and product owners out there.

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