Tag Archives: online help

Generations Change, But Help Formats Remain the Same?

Today should have been a day of great excitement, almost like a coronation. Having struggled with a 175 page user manual for several months, I finally finished a first draft. Today I met with the client, alongside the senior project manager, the project manager, and a few others to present the sacred document, with the Continue Reading »

An Article That Changed My Approach to Help

After a topic title in your help, what do you write? Do you jump straight into the numbered steps, or do you explain why a user would likely perform the topic? Although I practice the latter (adding explanatory text before the steps), I recently read an article by Mike Hughes that convinced me readers rarely Continue Reading »

The Kind of Documentation Users Really Want

Have you ever asked your users what kind of training materials they want, or how they prefer to learn software? This kind of information is critical to figuring out what help deliverables to produce. But really when it comes down to it, there are only so many options — printed manuals, short guides, interactive flash Continue Reading »

My Love Affair with Drop-Down Hotspots Ends

I used to think drop-down hotspots were the cat’s pajamas, until I realized they’re problematic for single source chunking. Let me elaborate. Drop-down hotspots seem like they’d be all the rage — the ability to compress massive amounts of information into little spaces that are easy to scan. You can get around the bloated TOC Continue Reading »

Are Gerunds in Topic Titles Problematic in Search Results?

I’ve been accustomed to writing topic titles as gerunds (for example, “Configuring the Monitor Display” or “Reformatting Your Hard Drive”), followed by specific steps that would begin, “To configure the monitor display…,” or “To reformat your hard drive….” However, when I watched how an actual person used my online help file, I noticed he didn’t Continue Reading »

A Web 2.0 Documentation Idea Gone Wrong

Many of us want to integrate innovative Web 2.0 practices into our online help. But if we create blogs, wikis, or other interactive features outside the help file, users may never use them. I’ve been using SharePoint 2007 as a file repository for my online help mainly because of the publishing control it gives me. Continue Reading »