Re: Modern vs Old-fashioned Help

Subject: Re: Modern vs Old-fashioned Help
From: Tony Chung <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca>
To: Nancy Allison <maker -at- verizon -dot- net>
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2011 08:11:54 -0700

-Tony



On 2011-07-25, at 7:10 AM, Nancy Allison <maker -at- verizon -dot- net> wrote:

> This help system is very strange (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb208225.aspx)
>
> ...

> I've lost the original writer's name -- someone in this thread wrote:
>
> ************
> Even MSDN switched from frames to no frames. It's not a question of design, it's web standards meets usability.
> *************
>
> To the person who wrote that -- if you find improved usability in this help system, please elaborate on it for me -- I must be missing something.
>

I wrote the quote about non-frames sites improving usability. My
original intent was to say "break out of the frames". However, some
writers have been shaking up the notion of the usefulness of
topic-based help over the past 10 years.

As Char said, one aspect of usability assumes that the user is
browsing through a task path. Those users aren't expecting to shotgun
through a number of topics, they want the focus to follow their
leaning.

Ben Minson wrote this post after reading Ginny Redish's Letting Go of
the Words: http://www.gryphonmountain.net/2011/03/why-i-dont-like-tri-pane-help/

Ben shares Ginny's argument that there must be a better way to truly
HELP users, by providing them with multiple scripted pathways, almost
like a role playing game. This process assumes the user doesn't really
want to search; search is a necessary evil to get into the closest
ballpark.

Later, Tom Johnson responded with some pros and cons of the tri-pane model:
http://idratherbewriting.com/2011/03/17/evaluating-tripane-help/
He cites Tony Self's research into exploring non-typical topic
structures to break us out of the book paradigm.

A web developer could produce a frameless tri-pane help system that
operates like a traditional help system. Then there's the question of
whether tri-pane help is even the best support option. If we combine
non standard topic structures, task based pathway pages, current web
standards, and a killer search, I think we'd have a winner.

I admit this arena is evolving, and that one creator's assumptions may
be "off"--just look at the kerfuffle MS caused by switching completely
to task based menus in Office 2007. They switched again to a hybrid
model for 2010, as users still like "File Edit Insert...."

BTW I just caught wind of an alternate thread, which discusses the
product interface as the front line help system. Bonus points to you!

-Tony
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help.
Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.
http://www.doctohelp.com

---
You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit http://lists.techwr-l.com/mailman/options/techwr-l/archive%40web.techwr-l.com


To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit
http://www.techwr-l.com/ for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:
http://lists.techwr-l.com/mailman/listinfo/techwr-l-chat


References:
Re: Modern vs Old-fashioned Help: From: Nancy Allison

Previous by Author: Re: Modern vs Old-fashioned Help
Next by Author: Re: non-parallelism - looking for the ok to let it go...
Previous by Thread: Re: Modern vs Old-fashioned Help
Next by Thread: Re: Re: Modern vs Old-fashioned Help


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

Sponsored Ads


Sponsored Ads