Documentation Design Suggestions Needed

Subject: Documentation Design Suggestions Needed
From: Deborah Hemstreet <dvora -at- tech-challenged -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 2009 15:25:10 -0500

Hi Everyone,

I am working on a project that is somewhat of a brain twister. There is legacy documentation and new documentation. All of it exists only in the form of Online Help and is distributed this way via the Internet to customers. The customers are rather high-level end-users setting up a very complex software that is utilized by their end-users.

This documentation is only for the administrator level. Let's call the product: Brain Twister, or BT for short.

The product is having a new module added that is going to replace it. Lets call it the Legacy Module (L-Mod) and New Module (N-Mod). While N-Mod will eventually replace L-Mod for all customers, this is going to be done in stages. All new customers will only ever get and see N-Mod.

The problem presented to me: The online Help is available for all admin levels of BT. What is the best way to distribute the online HELP given the following constraints:
1. Very low budget - this needs to be quick and dirty, but as professional as possible
2. Documentation must be available at ALL times for L-Mod and N-Mod until N-Mod is released to ALL customers (probably 1-2 years)

My Development Issues

1. Tool: RoboHelp v8
2. Deliverable: FlashHelp
3. Currently everything exists in ONE project; same key words exist for both L-Mod and N-Mod.

My Proposal
1. Have a full L-Mod help and an additional N-Mod Help accessed separately

My Problem: N-Mod help links to L-Mod help where relevant since the SW is basically two integrated packages, and I only found out about the distribution problem well into the project.

My Questions:
Are there are other thoughts for how to do this? Is there an easy way to split up the Help and somehow link back to the OTHER Help, back and forth? How would YOU handle key words that bring up two different topics with two different ways of doing the SAME thing, depending on if the user has L-Mod or N-Mod installed?

Re usability- this is a huge issue (think, Red button for OK) - we cannot change the world and I cannot even try to. Just want to give my client something that works within their limitations that is as USEABLE and LOW COST as possible.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and suggestions...

Deborah
http://www.tech-challenged.com

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