RE: Documentation behind a login

Subject: RE: Documentation behind a login
From: Paul Hanson <twer_lists_all -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:01:01 +0000

I worked at a company that kind of did this, but I left before customers used it. After I had converted 100 WInhelp files to HTML, I began publishing two WebHelp systems to our website - one for customers, one for internal - so that my co-workers no longer had to run a DOS batch file on their PC to update the documentation to their PC (since WinHelp files had to be run locally). When I left that company in fall 2010, they were sending out CDs with the setup.exe file that installed that Customer WebHelp system to the user's C: drive. I think the long-term plan was to have customers access the online Help on the server.

The bigger question, to me, is not whether the documentation is behind a login screen or not - is that there is an alarming shift from the help text opening to a landing page. I believe anyone implementing this should have context-sensitive help. For example, if you're on the "Print Options" page, opening the help text should take you to the topic about that page in the application, not a Home / Landing page with a (dumb) title like "What do you want to know?". I ran into this the other day when I wanted to refresh my memory about the "Automatically update document styles" check box on the "Templates and Add-ins" window in Microsoft Word. Clicking the ? icon takes you to a page that says: " Need assistance? Use the search box to tell us what you're looking for or browse for content on the Office help and training site."

Duh. Why would I be looking at the help text if I didn't need assistance?

Paul Hanson
My blog: http://prhmusic.blogspot.com  
Me Playing Drums: http://prhmusic.blogspot.com/p/videos-of-me-playing-drums.html
Twitter: @prhmusic


-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+twer_lists_all=hotmail -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+twer_lists_all=hotmail -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Helen Mullally
Sent: Friday, January 20, 2017 5:58 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Documentation behind a login

Hi all


I'm interested to know what people think about putting documentation behind a login screen, for example to offer extra documentation for paying customers.


I wonder what views you have about about giving all documentation freely available online. Do you see the restricted access to some documentation as a business opportunity or an annoyance/hinderance to the wider readership and prospects?


I don't know whether there is a yes or no answer to this but it is more about the principle.


Thanks in advance for your thoughts.


Helen


-----

Helen Mullally

Manager, User Assistance team

Skype: helen.mullally

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References:
Documentation behind a login: From: Helen Mullally

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