Re: Do users really like the format of HTML Help/Webhelp?

Subject: Re: Do users really like the format of HTML Help/Webhelp?
From: David Hickey <DHICKEY -at- ALIS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 09:49:34 -0400


> I've had several negative comments about the format of
> Webhelp which has the left-hand pane with Contents, Index,
> One sales manager [...] said immediately, "Oh I hate this format."
>A co-worker said, "It's pretty dry, just looks like a help file.
>We could do regular web pages that would look much nicer."

Now I'm all for proper presentation of documentation, but are we asking the
right people for an opinion? People who are only giving the online help a
glance are not the same people who will be using the online, right? The
situation is different, the perspective is different, and the need is

Online help should be easy to understand and simple to use. The person
reading the online help wants an answer likety-split. If the dressing of the
onilne help doesn't help the user find the answer quickly, he's gonna get
frustrated pretty quick.

Making your help "look nice" will only impress the reader for about a
minute. If the help is difficult to use, all the dressing in the world won't
encourage the reader to use the help.

As for the WebHelp format, personally I like it. Everything's in the same
place, looks the same way, and I know where to find the information I'm
looking for. I don't only write online help, I use it frequently.
Be seeing you,

John David Hickey
Montreal, Quebec, Canada eh?

dhickey -at- alis -dot- com
wk: 514-747-2542 ext.: 317
pg: 514-205-9209

No trees were harmed in the writing of this email.
My emails are made from elephant tusks and dolphin meat.
Don't confuse my opinion with my employer's.
Each exists in blissful ignorance of the other.

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