Re: Task-based vs. descriptive online help? (quasi-summary)

Subject: Re: Task-based vs. descriptive online help? (quasi-summary)
From: Christine -dot- Anameier -at- seagate -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2001 16:36:06 -0600

Thanks, everyone, for your helpful responses! (I have a feeling there may
be more, but I thought I'd respond to the first day's worth...)

Geoff Hart uses the term "reference help" for what I was calling
"guided-tour documentation"--I like his term better. My term originated in
my mental image of Tour Guide Barbie hanging around the screen and saying,
inanely and cheerfully, "This is the Name field. The Name field is where
the Name goes!" But I have to admit, the Name field isn't a fair example
for me to use. There *are* fields and interface elements that genuinely
benefit from some explanation. I think I will wind up leaving the reference
material in, in a modified form--the self-evident stuff goes, the actually
helpful stuff stays.

David McGill suggested a "Show me" button: <<If a user wanted more guidance
they could click the button and a large screen capture would appear
illustrating the specific step.>> I like that idea. I've been working on a
paper training manual with lots of illustrations like that, and reusing
those images would be easy. I'm thinking of putting them in as popups so
the users don't have to hit the Back button all the time. (To my chagrin,
Webhelp's standard popups show up as secondary windows in Netscape 4.x.
I'm considering using the freeware overLIB script library for the popups
instead. If anyone else has attempted this in RoboHTML, I'd be interested
in hearing whether you succeeded.)

Overall what I'm hearing is, in Lisa Wright's words, "Bury it . . . but
don't delete it." A few people wrote me off-list to agree that task-based
documentation is the way to go, but most people are advising me to keep
both task-based and feature-based material in the online help, while
emphasizing the task-based material.

The plan that's shaping up, thanks to all your feedback, is to create some
main help topics with a very brief overview followed by links to procedures
AND reference material (similar to the example Steve Shepard posted). The
user will enter the help system through those main topics if they click on
the context-sensitive help buttons in the application.

I greatly appreciate all the suggestions and examples I've received.



Develop HTML-Based Help with Macromedia Dreamweaver 4 ($100 STC Discount)
**New Dates!!** San Francisco (Apr 16-17), San Jose (Mar 29-30) or 800-646-9989.

IPCC 01, the IEEE International Professional Communication Conference,
October 24-27, 2001 at historic La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: Task-based vs. descriptive online help
Next by Author: Re: Task-based vs. descriptive online help? (quasi-summary)
Previous by Thread: RE: Managing the multitudes (LONG)
Next by Thread: Re: Task-based vs. descriptive online help? (quasi-summary)

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads

Sponsored Ads