RE: Designing a new help system -- Oh boy! ...ugh

Subject: RE: Designing a new help system -- Oh boy! ...ugh
From: Darren Barefoot <dbarefoot -at- mpsbc -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 1999 09:59:22 -0800


I was a bit dismayed to read the general opposition to screen shots in help
systems, as we're planning on using them where appropriate. Our need is
further compounded because we are single-sourcing out of Robohelp (pray for
us, if you get a chance), and so what you get in the help system more or
less is what goes in the printed docs. So, confusing to the reader or not,
we've chosen to include them.

We're exploring using some sort of visual key--a border or label or
something--that clearly indicates what the screen shot is. I have read (and
it occasionally happens to me) that users may sometimes get mixed up between
the images within a help system and the interface itself. We aim to try to
avoid this. DB.

-----Original Message-----
From: Giordano, Connie [mailto:Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM]
Sent: Thursday, December 02, 1999 9:28 AM
Subject: RE: Designing a new help system -- Oh boy! ...ugh

I don't have to deal with internationalization issues, so I can't even
address that part of this thread. However, I'm wondering if anyone else has
found issues with NOT providing screen shots in on-line documentation. I
did a fairly informal test about 4 months ago with our business QA folks
(former end users who tested the application for compliance with business
requirements). We had two copies of essentially the same help file, one
with screens and other graphics, one with minimal graphics, no screens at
all. The consensus of the seven people who reviewed them was that they like
screen shots, because it helped them figure out if they were in the right
place by comparing. We came to the conclusion that screen shots were
essential for beginners on the system, so we started developing a "basics"
on-line help, that more experienced users never bothered with.

Does anyone else have experience with feedback from users on incorporating
screen shots? How did you resolve this kind of conflicting objective?

Connie Giordano

-----Original Message-----

Screen shots are really intended for printed documentation, not online help.
As Kathi pointed out, the user will already be at the screen in question, so
including it in the online help is just redundant and confusing.

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