Re: Opinions on Embedded Help?

Subject: Re: Opinions on Embedded Help?
From: David Castro <techwrtr -at- CRL -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1999 09:06:44 -0800

Geoffrey can't post directly, so asked me to forward his message to the
list for further comments.


>David Castro is <<...including embedded help in the next release of
>the software I'm writing, and wanted to see what others on the list
>thought of this "new" idea.>>
>Well, first of all it's not a new idea, but rather a very old idea with a
>new label.
><<Should we give users an option to turn off embedded help, or
>should we keep it always there so that it's always giving them
>different things to read?>>
>Don't forget the "audience" mantra: forget what _we_ think, and find
>out what _they_ want. That being said, I suggest you give them the
>option of turning it off, and make that option easy to find. There are
>few things I hate more than being patronized or having no control
>over my screen display, and if the help isn't something I need or
>want, and if it's cluttering up the screen, I'm gonna start wishing
>you dead or worse within a few minutes if you don't provide me with
>an easy means of turning the embedded help off.
><<At the WinWriters Conference, one presenter put it this way
>(paraphrased): "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make
>it drink...but you *can* dunk its head under water and kick it up the
>Love the metaphor! And after the doctor removes the horseshoes
>from your mouth and refers you to a good plastic surgeon, you'll
>understand why it's such a perfect metaphor and such a terrible
>idea. I can think of two ways to beat people over the head with the
>embedded help without leaving bruises or having them wish you
>dead, either of which is vastly preferable:
>- First, make the optoin item number one under the Help menu, so
>people can't miss it. ('scuse, I should no better... make that "so
>that it's easy to find if they really want to"). You could also make it
>the first line of any help dialog box that the program displays,
>though I'm less keen on this notion.
>- Second, build it into the interface in the form of affordances. That
>is, instead of displaying "Zip code", display "Zip code (five digits, or
>five dash four)". And put a large, clearly labeled button on each
>dialog box that reads "Help!" or "Turn on inyerface help". Works for
>--Geoff Hart @8^{)} Pointe-Claire, Quebec
>geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
>"Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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