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1

How to display comprehensive helps texts in forms

Sometimes forms are so complex that it's necessary to provide extensive help. In such cases, the text needed to explain how to fill it out can become overwhelming.

Luke Wroblewski has looked around the web to find ways to design dynamic contextual help. In his article, he shows examples of both user-activated and automatically triggered help.

Links:

  • Dynamic Help in Web Forms Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 24, 2007

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Forms (30) 


 

2

Donald Norman's guidelines on writing manuals

"Is a manual important? Yes, but even more important is a well-designed product, one so well conceived and constructed that either the manual is not needed at all, or if it is, where the manual can be short, simple, and easy to understand and then to remember."

Norman suggests the following rules to accomplish this:
- Use excellent technical writers
- Make the writers part of the design team
- Let people get right to work with minimum reading by using short and simple explanations with illustrations
- Test the manual with people from the intended user community
- Get rid of the lawyers (or at the least, put their required warnings in a seperate appendix)

Links:

  • How To Write an Effective Manual Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 03, 2006

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Text (24) 


 

3

Only experts use help

In usability tests Jensen Harris has observed that help in Microsoft Office is mostly used by experts and enthusiasts. While novices and intermediates click around and experiment, experts try to reason thing out and look them up in help.

Jensen suggests that reasons for the varied usage of help include:
- Only experts know the "magic" words to bring up what they're looking for
- Help doesn't help you become familiar with a piece of software - it's designed to troubleshoot, not to teach.
- The process of experimenting with the product is totally removed from opening and reading articles in the help window
- Experts use more of the powerful and involved features, and thus benefit from the help system more.

Links:

  • Help Is For Experts Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 17, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Research (130) 


 

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