Usable Help: Is it really possible?

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Information about Usable Help: Is it really possible?

Published on March 4, 2014

Author: DvoraElisheva



This presentation looks at the ideals of technical communication for usable online help and shows that the ideals can indeed be achieved in the real world.

The presentation was given on February 27 in Jerusalem at the 8th Annual MEGAComm conference.

Usable Help: It really is possible! Deborah E-S Hemstreet Technical Communication Specialist & Consultant Editorial Assistant, Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal English Writer/Editor, Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 1

A Little Bit About Me Debbie (Shapiro) Hemstreet +20 years experience in technical communication L.P.N. BA in Special Education MA in Technical Communication Specializing in medical devices and medical writing This presentation is about a successful Help project documenting Mac-deployed Bible Software ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 2

Assumption 1: Uhhh, hello? That has NOTHING to do with your field of expertise! ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 3

Assumption 2: How Users Perceive Help ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 4

Assumption 3: Our Perception of Help ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 5

Assumption 4: The Client's Perception of Help ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 6

Help should be a team effort Technical Communiator Client SMEs End-Users Useable Help ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 7

Well We ALL Knew THAT ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 8

Basics: What makes help usable? Ease-of-Use (Design) Comprehensible Content Multiple Points of Access Knowledge is Power ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 9

Our Design Considerations How is the Help accessed? Where is the Help accessed? Can the Help be searched? Is there a table of contents? What about an index? ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 10

Caveat: Rare Opportunity Established client relationship Beginning of new project Unusual client Respected the TC’s knowledge Willing to invest in long-term solution Customer-centric approach to design ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 11

Background Information Client: OakTree Software, Altamonte Springs, FL Product: Accordance Bible Software End-Users University professors Rabbis, Priests, Pastors Bible translators Everyday people like us ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 12

The Client’s Request Can you take over our Help? By the way, it has to be created for and on a Mac... On a MAC?! ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 13

The Client’s Next Request By the way, we have something called an Emulator for PCs. The Help needs to work on that too. Create the Help on a MAC?! ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 14

Lewis Caroll Logic Mac makes everything easy If it’s easy, you don’t need Help Mac’s don’t need Help But some people NEED help… ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 15

Sample of Mac Help Today No Index Limited Search TOC not selfevident Limited browsing This is better than in 2010! ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 16

The Client’s Answer Every page edited by hand ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 17

Customer’s Complained ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 18

The Client’s Next Request Please don’t rewrite everything yet. Just import from Word. Then rewrite… Import all that from Word? ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 19

First Tasks Convince client to develop on a PC Find a HAT that: Tested outputs in Safari browser on a Mac Imports easily from Word Low learning curve Affordable (to me and client) In 2010, only one HAT tested in Safari on a Mac: MadCap Flare! ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 20

Key 1: Client Cooperation Trusted and believed in the contractor An active participant in the project Knew what they wanted Knew what they did not want The rest was up to me… ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 21

Second Key to Success: Metrics Need to make as accurate an assessment as possible as to the work involved Consult with others Always overestimate—you will most likely still need to put in more time than anticipated Be honest ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 22

Task Hours Notes Learning Flare so that I can tackle tasks efficiently 24 Learning curve…. Based on the time I spent today learning to do different tasks, I estimate an additional 24 hours to get me up to speed with the SW Content Design 15 Includes back and forth, uploading for testing, etc. (this may be an over esitmate, but I want to be sure you have a robust template for all your needs) PDF Design 10 less because a lot of the work will have already been done and lear Split up legacy content into topics, with correct styles applied, set up in Flare 40 Based on ~650 pages of exported content into Word (8.5x11 pages) Edit and rearrange legacy content 350 Based on reducing actual content to approx. 500 pages (by applying appropriate formatting etc), assuming minor edits and easier to rearrange, may take longer if the edits are extensive (reason for buffer) Prepare new content 200 Based on new content, expecting something like 50 pages of content to add (maximum) at 4 hours per page Context Sensitive Help Prep 40 This is a real off the wall estimate. I've never prepared files for that purpose before… it may take less time to get the information prepared in a manner your programmers can use - don't know yet Total Estimated Hours (base) 679 Buffer for Unexpected (15%) 102 TOTAL HOURS 781 Estimated Cost (manpower) XXX Confidential Cost of SW XXX Confidential Total Estimated Cost ~US$25K ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 23

Year Total Hours on Project Total Hours on Maintenance 2010 468 Unexpected delays precluded any work on project Went live in February (120 hrs) 2011 408 2012 2013 ~288 hours to complete plus ongoing updates 207 200 The estimate was pretty accurate. ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 24

Third Key to Success: Feedback The client read the Help! Customers read the Help! Programmers read the Help! Corrections, clarifications, updates were provided in great detail Key Component: User Forums ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 25

Forums: Client Asked Customers ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 26

Forums: Users Helped Users… With the Help! ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 27

Fourth Key to Success: Limitations Just because you CAN do it does not mean you SHOULD do it No videos No multimedia Feedback via e-mail or the forums Minimal bells and whistles ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 28

Fifth Key to Success: Accessibility Multiple paths to gain information TOC Index Search Glossary Selective context sensitivity in the application Cross references Related Topics Content hidden in drop-downs to reduce noise ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 29

Sixth Key to Success: Good Tool Support Create a skin that was Mac-like? A CSS that has the bullets indented exactly so? Track what was deleted and no longer used? And lots more… I didn’t know how, but service and support did! ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 30

Seventh Key to Success: Communication to Users Users know the Help exists Users are encouraged to access the Help When possible answers are provided to users based on the Help Podcasts mention the Help Trainings mention the Help Sales materials mention the Help ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 31

Communicating You Have Help ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 32

Teaching How to Use the Help Remember, most of these Mac users had not used nor seen WebHelp before! ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 33

Proof of Success: A User Speaks As I watched the recorded webinar the instructor referenced the Accordance Help section. Little did I know how helpful this section is. Even when I am using Accordance for my iPad, the help section takes me to Accordance Help for ios. I continue to learn more about Accordance as the weeks pass. I just wanted to thank you for supporting Accordance as well as you do. I wish I had engaged Accordance Help and Support sooner. ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 34

Usable Help IS a Team Effort ©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 35

©2014 Deborah Hemstreet 36

Links Accordance Help V9 (Mac)* Accordance Help V9 (PC Emulator) Accordance Help V10 (HTML5 on MAC) Accordance Help V10 (HTML5 on PC) Accordance Help for Mobile App The Accordance Help V9 received an International Summit award from the Society for Technical Communication (2012)

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