I’ve used Adobe Community Help when trying to get answers regarding Creative Suite products. I like the emphasis on searching and the integration of results that aren’t within Adobe’s domain. I think Adobe Community Help is a great example of what help can be: pulling answers and information together from various sources and formats and then showing context in search results.
Software documentation such as Help systems and user guides may be the best method of helping your customers to use your software effectively. However, one or more of these alternatives may be a better solution.
Caterpillar is dramatically changing the way technical, product support information is authored. Book paradigms have been replaced by the more granular Information Element (IE) approach. The new integrated environment utilizes Unix based, TCP/IP connected, ECALS compliant tools on multi-tasking author workstations. Research data, in-process work approved IE's and relational indices are distributed to work group servers. Application software tools include a graphics editor and an interactive, context sensitive, SGML text editor. The environment is managed by a robust file management system that provides file tracking, revision control, workflow sensitive tool launching, burden planning and management reporting capabilities.
The first time you create a Windows Help file can be very confusing. This paper should help reduce confusion by explaining the basic WinHelp concepts and components, and then walking you through the procedure.
A browse sequence enables users to navigate through a series of help topics in the sequence established by the help author. Although often omitted from help systems, the browse sequence is useful and will become essential as print documentation diminishes. Effective design options for a browse sequence include multiple segments, rings, branching, and the use of a browse button to take the user to the first topic in the current segment of the browse sequence.
When I gave my own UIE Virtual Seminar last year on Navigation, I got a question from one of the attendees. He said that it was a requirement at his company that the user be able to get to any screen in the product (and there were 1,000+) with no more than 2 clicks. I enjoyed the challenge of thinking about how I'd do it. At the time, I was imagining a massive Site Map of the application, but now I think that perhaps another way to satisfy that requirement would be to implement the kind of searching that Apple has.
This presentation describes a strategy to meet a last-minute enterprise demand for online help for a software application program. We established design standards for writing online help, developed a process for gaining consensus from the project team on the content of the online help, and wrote the online help. We accomplished this in less than four months-a task that originally seemed impossible.
During March and April 2003, Cherryleaf carried out an online survey into the current trends in technical communication. One of the questions we asked was: Do the online user assistance documents produced by your organization contain the following advanced capabilities?
This paper describes some common types of help topic and when to use each. Different applications require different mixes of help topics. Choose the topic types that are appropriate for the application you are documenting.
Recently, there was a lively discussion on the Help Authoring Tools and Techniques (HATT) mailing list about the relative compactness and efficiency of the HTML code produced by various Help authoring tools. As a result of these discussions, several industry consultants decided to collaborate on a project to compare the HTML, CSS, and CHM files produced by a variety of Help authoring tools.
The web allows us to easily provide updated documentation to our users, but why stop there? There is more to making users successful quickly than just providing documentation. By creating a complete "Answer Station" that is accessible from the application or product, we can not only direct users to that updated documentation, but we can also provide information about technical support, consulting, training, sales, etc. This paper discusses writing a proposal for an Answer Station, determining content, working with other departments to gather information, designing the site, making that design work with an existing corporate website, dealing with tool issues, and finally, going live.
This article is for software developers who have never implemented context-sensitive help. It explains the concepts and the basic types of context-sensitive help. A demonstration application with context-sensitive help is available.
We are currently in the second phase of development of a large Windows online help system. This paper reviews the major decisions we had to make during the first phase of the project, and lists some project evaluation results that have helped us plan for subsequent phases.
Customers avoid web-based customer support if information is not relevant, out of date or hard to find. Without a business commitment to addressing these issues, customers will continue to prefer contacting a service representative by phone.
The Windows Help utility is familiar as a tool to provide context-sensitive and procedural help for people using a software application, but it also a highly effective tool for providing many kinds of desktop-based training and support within an organization. During this session, we look at a variety of systems built using Windows Help and explore why this was a good choice for the particular project.
Online help systems have evolved over the past 20 years to meet the needs of our users. Designers must consider the content, format, presentation, navigation, and access methods of online help systems. A series of design checklists based on the past 20 years of research are presented in this paper, which summarizes a journal article currently being considered for publication. The latest trend in online help system design is embedded user assistance, which includes integrating information into the interface and including an embedded help pane within that interface to display a context-sensitive online help system.
This article looks at a methodology for developing a software user assistance (UA) system in a structured manner. The software UA system could have both paper-based user manuals and online help systems.
This document explains necessary tips for providing product information in digital form, giving specific examples of choosing the suitable media, classifying information, appropriate linking, file organization, etc. through our experience (in Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd.) during the development of the software product called Web PrintVision.
One of the biggest problems facing Help developers is that of providing users with adequate methods of navigation through what can be huge amounts of information. After more than a two or three jumps, users can find themselves in topics that might be useful, but with no clear indication of how they got there or how to return to where they started. OS/2 gives the Help developer extraordinarily flexible tools for creating online documentation that can prevent this situation and provide users with a clearer path through online information than many other platforms can provide. However, this enhanced usability is not without its cost.
If you are a technical writer or manage technical writers and have been asked to document Lotus Notes applications, this workshop will give you a jump start. You can use the features available in Notes to create an effective help system as a Notes database. This help database can either be a view in an existing Notes application or a stand-alone database linked to the application. In this workshop, you will learn the basics of creating help systems in Lotus Notes.
Development of the Intranet application STAR.IDN for requesting and receiving medically related supplies illustrates a broad spectrum of technological and user issues. As such it serves as a case study of design and user-related decisions between an application designer and a Help author. Central to the study is the argument that design must be based on an empirically 'informed' rather than 'assumed' user model. The project also challenges Web literature that does not address user considerations in its promotion of design methods.
Lately I’ve been creating context-sensitive help for an online application. As part of my strategy, I’ve been trying to follow Theresa Putkey’s advice in “Usability in Context-Sensitive Help.” In her article, Theresa recommends providing more than just the steps for a specific task in the context-sensitive help window. Instead, she says to show more contextual links, including answers to why, when, and who questions, because too frequently the user who searches for help may have needs outside the specific task you describe.
In a previous article we discussed what browser-based HTML Help is, and how you can use the HTML Help ActiveX control to create and distribute web-based HTML Help to Microsoft Internet Explorer Users. In this article we'll explain how to use the Microsoft Java Applet to create and distribute Help systems that can be viewed by an Java-enabled browser.
In this article we discuss what browser-based HTML Help is, the sitemap file that's behind the HTML Help table of contents, how the HTML Help ActiveX control HHCTRL.OCX interprets and displays this sitemap file, and how you can automatically distribute HHCTRL.OCX.