Re: Looking for the Bingo (was Get to the point?)

Subject: Re: Looking for the Bingo (was Get to the point?)
From: Dan Emory <danemory -at- primenet -dot- com>
To: Steven Schwarzman <StevenS -at- amdocs -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 05 Sep 2000 18:14:34 -0700

At 06:16 PM 9/5/00 -0500, Steven Schwarzman wrote:

If, as Dan Emory writes, help systems are typically keyword/topic based, I

want to ask: isn't anyone out there writing context-sensitive help and
getting the software to link directly to the relevant information for the
task at hand?

Dan, I do understand that you are describing, not prescribing. But why isn't
there more context-sensitivity out there?
Context-sensitive help has a role to play, but it certainly cannot be the
sole element of a help system. Not only that, but its role is often

Let's face it: When a novice user has successfully found the
dialog box (s)he needs to perform a task, (s)he's usually 90%
of the way home, and doesn't need any context-sensitive help
to fill out the dialog box. Many context-sensitive help
pages just re-state the obvious.

What if the user is clueless about what dialog box to use
for accomplishing a particular task? In that case (the most common one
for novice users), there's no context-sensitive help to request,
is there.

What if the user has the wrong dialog box up, (but doesn't
realize it yet), requests context-sensitive help, and, upon
reading the help, realizes that it's the wrong one for the
desired task (this situation is often the most common reason
for a user to request context-sensitive help). Does the
context-sensitive help page provide links that allow the
user to recover from the mistake in a manner that will lead
the him/her to the right answer? Unlikely.
| Nullius in Verba |
Dan Emory, Dan Emory & Associates
FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design & Database Publishing
Voice/Fax: 949-722-8971 E-Mail: danemory -at- primenet -dot- com
10044 Adams Ave. #208, Huntington Beach, CA 92646
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