User Assistance in Windows 7 - use more linked help labels embedded as questions in dialog boxes

Subject: User Assistance in Windows 7 - use more linked help labels embedded as questions in dialog boxes
From: "Daniel Ng" <kjng -at- gprotechnologies -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 2009 15:43:07 +0800

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Not a question but simply based on an observation in UX articles and recent
podcasts.

For those not running Windows 7 yet, it was interesting to see Microsoft's
user assistance team embedding linked label text consistently in most of the
dialog boxes (align left, bottom left corner) - i.e. when adjusting
date/time, adding users, changing display properties.

Some of the linked labels were also phrased as questions, for example, "How
do I adjust the date or time?"

In the end, it wasn't a case of following what was hot or trendy in user
research. In the end, IMHO especially when the questions were phrased
carefully, i did indeed click on some of them.

I think the work was based on sound User Assistance research work and recent
articles of the last 2 years. Am not sure if this was common knowledge prior
to 2008 but nonetheless interesting to see usability research studies
incorporated into commercial products yet again.

Listen to a Michael Hughes interview/podcast on the always helpful
idratherbewriting.com podcast (google it) and you'll hear some references
about embedding links in the the form of questions.

The podcast was done long before Windows 7 even came out. But I think the
msft design team were doing their due diligence by taking into consideration
research about how users work with problems, "no one reads the help",
activities and how to help them complete tasks.

Not many of us have access to in house user assistance experts or 2 way
mirror labs, but it looks like this could be something to consider if you
are building and integrating help in a more 'helpful' manner for your users.


Another excellent case to help you sell the value of your technical
communications and user assistance work.
- and create more user entry paths into your help documentation, so they
know its there.


Hope this was relevant to the list!

Daniel

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