Summary: Estimating context-sensitive help

Subject: Summary: Estimating context-sensitive help
From: Katharine Woods <kathw -at- FTP -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 1997 14:27:43 +0000

Now the list has returned, here is the summary of the replies I

My question was:

Is 4 hours a reasonable estimate for context-sensitive help topics as
well as other types of help topic?

I had three replies. One cited a seminar presented by Joann Hackos
(source for the estimate above) in which she said 2 or 3 hours per

Another cited Mary Deaton and Cheryl Lockett Zubak's book, Designing
Windows 95 Help: A Guide to Creating Online Documents, ISBN:
0-7897-0362-9 in which Mary Deaton says 3.5 hours per topic, adding
that that figure is overly generous.

The third reply suggested one hour per topic for context-sensitive

It looks as if estimates are coming down for help topics. Perhaps
this is a result of greater familiarity in the profession with
writing help topics and a greater number of tools around to help
writers do it but that's another thread.

I settled on doing estimates at 2 hours per topic for the context-
sensitive topics and 3 hours for other types of topics. I thought I'd
err on the generous side since one of the authors in the project is
new to online help, PCs and PC software and we are also all new to
the platform, particular version of the help tool, style guidelines
and the concept of delivering all the documentation via Windows help.

Thanks to Julie McAller, Steven Fouts and Beth Kane for their

Katharine Woods
kathw -at- sol -dot- ftp -dot- com
Senior Technical Writer
FTP Software Limited.

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