Albeit fictional, HBO’s Silicon Valley has been tip-toeing around a revolutionary technology with their uber cool software, Pied Piper. The show has been doing wonders and has been able to satirize the tech industry, maintaining a neat, authentic and relatable style throughout. But, in real-life, what would you do if your million dollar software, is overloaded with features not understandable to a layman?
In this article, we have the perfect solution for that. And we’ll even discuss an interesting but nascent technology that was brushed off in the last episode called the interactive walkthroughs. (step-by-step guides) Maybe this might be the fix that the Pied Piper’s of the software industry need!
But before we move into that – Spoiler Alert! If you are not up to date with Silicon Valley, then I suggest you pocket this article right now and return to it afterward. If you’ve watched the latest episode, then as Erlich Bachman would say:
Pied piper-erlich bachman
Let’s get to the crux of the matter.  In the last episode of Silicon Valley, named “Daily Active Users”, we saw Pied Piper in deep trouble.
The fictional middle-out compression solution, Pied Piper, founded by Richard Hendricks and team, is pretty much the centre of everything in the series. And each time they overcome a hurdle to envision Pied Piper, we empathize and we root for them. And luckily somehow they manage to breeze through all the situations. (Thank you, writers!)
But now, the situation of our favourite gang of nerds (maybe, after TBBT) is different. Pied Piper launched its beta and successfully got about 500,000 installs. A reason to celebrate indeed. But right at the start of last week’s episode, after they nonsensically declared that in their launch video that ‘Sharing is tables. Sharing is Pied Piper’, a bomb was dropped by Richard. Pied Piper’s active user bases were next to nothing compared to the installs. Woah, right! A big reason to worry, indeed. The whole episode seemingly explores ‘The Why’ and the big reason for that apparently is ‘Confusing User Interface’
On that note, here’s something Linus Torvalds, said about UI:
Linus Torvalds on UI design
Let’s reel back into the real world. Isn’t this a familiar situation? Well, many web-based software nowadays has the exact same problem as Pied Piper. They may be an instant hit because of its amazing idea and of course, the marketing strategy. But at the end of the day, their user base is deteriorating due to their complex UI.

How can Pied Pipers of the world tackle this?

Let’s make one thing clear, it’s not going to happen with Pipey. (Remember Microsoft’s Clippy, well it had a similar fate.)
Microsoft clippy
The reason being, such characters are simply, annoying. Pipey is a puppet who only knows one script and will keep repeating the same at you, till it ticks you off. And believe me, it will.
Maybe instead of that, we could follow Dinesh’s idea, which was to put the platform on hold, take out all the money left and pivot to something that doesn’t require hours of explanation. Nah, not happening right?
Guess what! There is a better and subtle way to go about it. Hook up your own Pied Piper with some Real-time Interactive Walkthroughs.

What are Real-time Interactive Walkthroughs?

Real-time Interactive walkthroughs are overlaid tooltips on web platforms that help users to navigate through the right places in a website or a web-app. They help the user understand each and every aspect of the platform by guiding them step-by-step through completion of each of the tasks.
Unlike Pipey, the interactive walkthroughs are subtle and can be assigned in a way that doesn’t intrude or annoy your users. Instead, it will allow you to direct your user to the required touch-points quickly and easily.
If Pied Piper were to use a real-time interactive walkthrough, it would look much like this*:
Pied piper interactive walkthrough
*See the orange tool-tip.
These tooltips can guide the user easily and comfortably allowing them to understand how to do each of the tasks, and even help them remember them easily.
As for a tool that does this, you should try out Whatfix. This interactive walkthrough creator has a lot of great features, that would make the user experience of any complex application, simpler. And, it’s widely used by companies to ease onboarding, reduce training efforts and to simplify help & support.
Check out this GIF of Whatfix on Salesforce:
Whatfix on Salesforce - Salesforce extensions
Here’s a shout out to all the Richard Hendricks out there. If you are looking to simplify the web platforms that you work on daily, this here is your cue. Try out the Real-time Interactive Walkthroughs on it and possibly you won’t ever have to be yet another Pied Piper.
Wait a second. Is it just me or is Pipey’s death like tune still bothering any of you?
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