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well, I guess the first question might be: what kind of online help do you
need in the programs you use?
Would your needs then apply to the program's users?
now, on with the theoretical blathering <g>....
I'd imagine there'd be 3 major types of information that could go into
online help: conceptual stuff (what is a widget?), tasks and procedures (how
to add a widget), and dialog or field-level information (what am I supposed
to put in this field, and what are all these buttons for?).
Imho, dialog/field level help should do more than simply reiterate the
options for the field; it should tell me the ramifications of my choices.
And also, imho, online should be more weighted with immediate use
information, than with high-level conceptual information.
But I'm probably a bit biased, since my first online project was for an
in-house sales force automation tool used by our sales reps while on the
road and at customer sites. They couldn't lug around a giant manual, but
needed instructions pretty immediately.
>I am being asked to get some online help started. The advice I need is
>this: I do not want to regurgitate my hardcopy user manuals into online
>However, I have no idea how to approach online help, figuring out what
>should go into it, how online help is different than user guides, etc.
>I need to know the theory and design, not the tools.
>Any and all constructive advice is appreciated. Thanks in advance!