Re: Ideas for Help 2.0
... users want attractive help, but they also want effective help.
As a user of some of the help available on the web I am particularly annoyed when I am handed a set of "the most popular" answers that completely fails to address my actual problem.
Occasionally a help system asks the user to distinguish between two nearly identical products, assuming that the user is somehow aware of which one he has. Or (even worse) it asks the user to provide the name of the division of the company that services the particular model. I do not want the help system for my Ford 150 truck to ask me whether it was assembled in Dearborn, Long Beach or Hapeville.
Also annoying is the question that asks the already frustrated user to rate the effectiveness of the help system, omitting the obvious possibility of "Totally Useless."
Is the boss who wants a "kick-ass" help system looking for brighter chrome, or for a more reliable transmission? The only time I worked on a help system the answer was chrome. "Help" was a static entity that, once finished, should need no further effort, ever. There were no plans for maintaining or testing the system.
I would guess that the right place to start is not CSS web technology, but investigation of users' annoyances.
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