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If you are planning to create online help documentation and want to make sure you end up with one that is truly helpful, here are three best practices you can follow to make sure it is:
- Tailor it to users who have with varying skill sets and goals.
- Review, test, and update it for accuracy.
- Create context-sensitive topics.
Keep different users in mind
You can’t always predict what every user will know or want to know about any product. On one hand, if you oversimplify help steps, users might get confused. If you provide too much detail, they might get frustrated or bored.
One way to alleviate this problem is to divide help topics into several different types that target users at different skill levels by varying the kind and amount of information you provide. For example, you might have an overview topic, such as a definition of a specific system function, and then provide a link to all of the tasks related to that function within the overview. That way, users get just the specific steps they want.
The key is to allow users to navigate the help documentation to find (or avoid) as much detail as they want.