Task-Based or Reference

Subject: Task-Based or Reference
From: "Kelly Williamson" <kwcwtech -at- iwaynet -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 7 May 2001 17:17:47 -0400

Hi gang,

I've been thinking...in my current project, I'm trying to decide whether to
produce task-based online help or reference-based online help, as there are
LOTS of reference/display only fields. We're talking screens that have 20
display fields and 1 enterable field. For example, we have a screen to enter
a Cost Invoice. Should I do something like....

To enter a Cost Invoice:
-Select the Cost Invoice link to access the form.
-Verify that the Contract Name listed is correct.
-Enter xxx in the xxx field.
-Verify that the xxx listed is correct.
-Select the [Submit] button to submit the invoice.

However, since we have so many fields on the screen that are display only,
maybe I should do something like this:


Most of the fields on this form are display only. Fields requiring data
entry are shown in green.

Field 1 - Display only. This field displays....
Field 2 - Display only. This field displays....
Invoice Amount - Required field. Enter the amount of your invoice.
Field 3 - Display only. This field displays.....

When you have finished entering the required information, select the
[Submit] button to submit the invoice to the system.

Whadd'ya think? I think (hope) the screens are intuitive enough (and they
will have training) that they're not going to look to the help for "how to
do x". I'm presuming they would use the help as a reference to see what an
obscure field title actually means. I generally prefer to provide task-based
help, but another factor is that this is page-level help that will be
launched directly from the appropriate page. (We can't do field-level for
this project).

Suggestions? Opinions?
/Kelly Williamson
Columbus, OH


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