Re: Modern vs Old-fashioned Help

Subject: Re: Modern vs Old-fashioned Help
From: Rick Stone <rstone75 -at- kc -dot- rr -dot- com>
To: Robert Lauriston <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2011 16:24:31 -0500



On 7/22/2011 11:42 AM, Robert Lauriston wrote:

I don't think users know or care whether the three-pane UI is
generated by frames or something else.
I totally agree with this. As long as you supply what is helpful and can be used, I really think users could care less how it is actually achieved. Unless, of course, the help doesn't work because of the medium such as an iPhone, iPad, iPoke or whatever.
If you think your help looks
dated, you probably don't need to do anything other than revise the
CSS and maybe update some icons and other little UI graphics.

Adobe, MadCap, and other tools vendors have put a lot of effort into
new formats, "rich" media, and so on, but that doesn't mean those
features add value to every help system, or even most.
I have to take somewhat of an issue with this. By that, I don't mean that I feel Robert said anything wrong or was out of line. Quite the contrary. What I take issue with are the "whiz bang" bells and whistles that are added because "users said they wanted them". For example, these silly "star rating" systems. Seriously? For help content? I really struggle to understand the logic behind them. Not how they work, that part is clear. But about their overall usefulness (or more accurately, lack thereof). Wouldn't it be fair to conclude that after a period of time ALL topics in a help system would be five star?

I might better understand the usefulness if it were a blog or something similar and the readers were "voting" on how well the post was written.

What about view frequency? Why do we really care how many times topic A was viewed VS topic B? If topic B was viewed 100,000 times and topic A was viewed twice, does that make topic B vastly more valuable? As a result, I should consider removing topic A? I say that if topic A totally addresses an obscure but seldom encountered issue, it's likely the more successful topic. I suppose it may make sense in that whomever is looking at these statistics would be able to approach the dev team and tell them that the UI failed because topic B is being viewed so often. So sure, in this case it would make sense.

Cheers... Rick :)
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References:
Modern vs Old-fashioned Help: From: Chris Despopoulos
Re: Modern vs Old-fashioned Help: From: Tony Chung
Re: Modern vs Old-fashioned Help: From: Robert Lauriston

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