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Is the Help Helpful? How to Create Online Help That Meets Your Users' Needs

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ISBN-10: 1930919603

ISBN-13: 9781930919600

Edition: N/A

Authors: Jean Hollis Weber, Tamar E. Granor

List price: $39.95
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Book details

List price: $39.95
Publisher: Hentzenwerke Publishing
Publication date: 11/28/2004
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 270
Size: 7.25" wide x 9.25" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.880
Language: English

Our Contract with You, the Reader
List of Chapters
Dedication
Acknowledgments
About the Authors
How to Download the Files
Introduction
Planning an Online Help Project
Why plan an online help project?
What process is used in an ideal help project?
Analyze the audience, plan the project, and write the plan
Develop high-level specifications
Develop detailed specifications
Perform a detailed task analysis
Build and evaluate a prototype help system
Develop an outline and map of the help project
Write, index, and edit the help topics
Review the help topics
Test the help
Release the help with the product
Evaluate the help and plan for improvements
What are the roles in an online help project?
Project manager/planner/producer's role
Writer's role
Editor's role
Graphic artist's or illustrator's role
Instructional designer's role
Programmer's role
Multimedia producer's role
Indexer's role
Localization and translation coordinator's role
Usability tester's role
Quality assurance (QA) person's role
How much time is required for producing online help?
Overall time required
Time required for different activities
Number of help topics required
Who does what, when?
Organizing the flow of writing, editing, reviewing, and testing
Stages of help and software development
How many reviews are needed, and when?
What types of testing are required?
Methods for editing and reviewing
Choosing help-development tools
Conclusion
Analyzing Audiences and Tasks
Who are the audiences?
Audience analysis for TreeLine
Audience analysis for a multi-user database program
Working with user profiles and personas
Personas for TreeLine
What are the audiences' tasks?
User task analysis for TreeLine
User/task matrix for a multi-user database program
Task map for TreeLine
Flow diagram
Working with use cases and user scenarios
Use case and user scenario for an e-mail program
What questions will the audience ask?
Build lists of users' questions and help topic types
Part of a task-topic list for TreeLine
Conclusion
Developing Specifications
High-level specifications
How will the online help coordinate with other user documents?
What type of help will best fit the application?
How will the help be connected to the application?
What media types are required?
What tools are needed?
What information types and levels are required?
What topic types are required?
How will the help windows (or pages) be presented?
What navigation aids will be used?
How will the help meet localization criteria?
How will the help meet accessibility criteria?
Detailed specifications
Related documents (primary sources)
Writing conventions
Terminology
Design and layout
Help navigation scheme
Content of topic types
Project-specific style guide
Conclusion
Prototyping the Help System
Why build a prototype of a help system?
Building a high-level concept and design prototype
What to include in a high-level prototype
Create a working high-level prototype
Building a detailed contents prototype
Outline and map the help project
Use the outline and roadmap to build a detailed prototype
Fill in the details
Conclusion
Avoiding Common Problems
I can't find what I'm looking for
I can't figure out what's going on
I can't figure out what will happen when I do something
There's too much detail
There's not enough detail
I can't get to the help when I want it
The program isn't working the way the help says it should
Help says what the system does, but not how to use it
I want a bigger picture of what this program can do
The help is inconsistent and badly written and formatted
Categorizing problem severity
Conclusion
Producing the Table of Contents and Index
Terminology
Designing a useful table of contents
Structure
Presentation
Reviewing a table of contents
Table of contents with subtle problems
A more user-friendly table of contents
Another user-friendly table of contents
A different approach: table of contents for a Web site
Designing a useful index
Reviewing an index
An index with problems
A better index for an e-mail program
An index with clearly differentiated entries
An automatically generated index for a Web site
A bad example: combining index and search
Conclusion
Providing Navigation and Context
Avoiding problems
Using cross-references and other links
Reviewing cross-references and other links
Using expanding sections
Providing for reader-defined navigation
Navigation pane
Bookmarks and Favorites
History list (Web browsers)
Using visual aids such as icons or color
Reviewing visual aids
Using browse sequences
Reviewing browse sequences
Providing context information in the text
Using breadcrumbs: showing the path to a topic
Using words to provide context
Telling users what to expect
Reviewing context information
Conclusion
Meeting the Needs of Novices to Experts
Designing help to meet a range of users' needs
Consider different user types
Define different information types
Choosing delivery methods
Embedded help
Assistance for novice users
Providing for users' preferences
Integrating the help system with other documents and systems
Avoiding common problems
Not enough detail
Too much detail
Conclusion
Linking from Application to Help
Providing context-sensitive help
Using topic IDs and context numbers
Solving context-sensitive help complications
Providing help for dynamic (variable) dialogs
Providing help for dialogs with multiple tabs
Providing field-level help within dialog-level help
Providing context-sensitive help for Web pages
Identifying common linking problems
Conclusion
Copyediting and Production Editing
Defining editorial roles
Substantive editing of online help
Copyediting online help
Example of accurate content requiring rewording
Using a style guide
What belongs in a style guide?
Company and project style guides
Production editing online help
Finding and fixing display problems
Finding and fixing accessibility problems
Prioritizing changes
Conclusion
Usability Testing on a Budget
What is usability?
Planning for usability testing
What to test when
Usability testing during planning stage
Usability testing during prototyping stage
Usability testing during early draft stage
Usability testing during production editing stage
Conducting usability tests
Defining testing objectives and methods
Writing test materials (scenarios for testers to follow)
Recruiting test subjects
Setting up the test environment
Conducting the test
Analyzing and reporting on the results
Prioritizing problems and making changes
Conclusion
Sample Plans and Specifications
Templates
Online help plan for TreeLine
Purpose of project and product
Audience
Competitors, previous software, or integrated systems
Help development process
Assumptions, dependencies, risks
Schedule
Contingency plans
Related documents
High-level specifications for TreeLine help
Related user documentation
Type of help to be provided
Interactions between help and application
Media types to be used
Tools for writing, editing, indexing
Topic types required
Presentation of help windows
Navigation aids
Accessibility criteria
Detailed specifications for TreeLine help
Primary sources
Writing conventions
Terminology
Abbreviations and acronyms
Design and layout
Content of topic types
Conclusion
Help Types and Tools
Types of help
On Windows systems
On multiple platforms using a Web browser
On Apple Macintosh systems
On Linux systems
Tools
Help-authoring tools running on Windows
Other tools running on Windows
Tools running on Macintosh operating systems
Linux
For More Information
General references
Accessibility
Audience analysis and personas
Graphics
Help types and tools
Indexing
Planning and specifications
Usability
Writing, style, and copyediting
Glossary
Checklists
Planning the help project
Analyzing audiences and tasks
Developing specifications
Developing a prototype
Developing the table of contents
Developing the index
Reviewing the help system as a whole
Reviewing embedded help
Reviewing the contents of help topics
Copyediting
Production editing
Usability testing
Index