Online Help

Answering User Questions Effectively

Online help offers users instant access to relevant information from within the product. These systems provide both context-sensitive help which describes an object, screen, or window; as well as task-based help which provides step-by-step instructions on how to achieve a particular function.

Help your customers help themselves

Elegant online help systems can leverage a significant amount of material from product documentation, but skilled online help developers can add great value with “Popups” for context-sensitive help and other types of object-dependent information, linked indexing and table of contents, and robust search capabilities.

  • Build out the help system using the most appropriate tool and output type (such as compiled help file for portable end users, or hosted HTML-based systems for larger-scale solutions).
  • Maximize value and help ensure consistency by leveraging product content from complementary technical resources, such as from user guides and training materials.
  • Coordinate with marketing, design, and documentation teams to ensure a consistent look-and-feel that adopts your corporate branding standards.

Sample Online Help Project

Developing consumer-oriented online help

I developed this online help as a compiled HTML (.chm) file for a customer who needed to package it with their hardware/software product for the consumer market.

A top priority for this help system was to write the material using a friendly voice that minimized jargon and helped reinforce the key concepts—and more importantly, how mastering those concepts would enhance the user experience—that were presented in the companion user guide.

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