Here is an interview we carried out with Mark Baker, author of Every Page is Page One. The interview is interspersed with audio snippets from Day 1 of the UAEurope 2017 conference.
- Caroline Loverage (Thermo Fisher Scientific). Teaching by Example: Worked Examples in the Documentation of Complex Systems
- Kelly O’Brien (Kayako). Practical Information Architecture: Building Templates For Better Content.
- Helena Pichler (Nominet). AsciiDoc to Responsive Webhelp: Agile documentation for small teams/
With thanks to Matthew Ellison and Mark Baker.
This month, Microsoft has added Microsoft Teams to Office 365. It’s a instant messaging collaboration tool, similar to Slack. Teams contains the T-Bot, which provides help and assistance to users.
Users can watch videos:
They can read online Help:
They can read an FAQ:
They can ask the T-Bot a question and receive an answer. The T-Bot initially provides the same answers as the FAQ. If it doesn’t know the answer, it will suggest some articles from the Help:
Do you think this way of helping users is good? Share your thoughts, using the comments form below.
We spotted an interesting statement by the “Father of Behaviour Design”, BJ Fogg:
“For somebody to do something – whether it’s buying a car, checking an email, or doing 20 press-ups – three things must happen at once.
The person must want to do it, they must be able to, and they must be prompted to do it.
A trigger – the prompt for the action – is effective only when the person is highly motivated, or the task is very easy. If the task is hard, people end up frustrated; if they’re not motivated, they get annoyed.”
See Ian Leslie’s article “The scientists who make apps addictive“.
If we want users to read Help text instead of calling the support line, then we maybe we need to meet those three criteria.
We can assume the user is motivated to fix their problem.
We can write instructions that are clear enough to make them able to solve the problem.
Where some applications fall down is they don’t prompt the user to read the online Help. The link to the Help text is often tucked away in the right hand corner of the screen.
Instead, we could put some of the Help text into the User Interface or the dialog screens, and we could prompt the user to follow a link to more information. Doing this could get users to read the online Help rather than call support.
Adobe released the latest version of RoboHelp last week, and we’ve taken it for a quick spin around the block. It’s called RoboHelp (2015 Release), but we’ll call simply call it RoboHelp 2015.
Continue reading “RoboHelp 2015 Release – A review”
Last week, I visited Gamescom in Cologne. Gamescom is the largest exhibition and trade fair for computer games in Europe, with over 335,000 people attending this five day event. We visited for social rather than business purposes, but it led me to reflect on the work we and others have done in writing documentation for the games industry.
Continue reading “Writing documentation for the games industry”
Google has updated Chrome in build 27 to include conversational voice search, and this feature extends to the Help pages.
According to TechCrunch, it transcribes your queries in real time. It also lets you use natural language, asking Google straightforward questions and getting straightforward answers, both read back to you by dictation and in actual Google search results.
Based on a few initial tests, for South East English accents, it works really well.
One of the graphs posted in yesterday’s blog showed the number of people searching for IPad Help.
Here is the graph:
For a product that “just works”, there is an increasing number people searching the Web for iPad Help. However, part of that increase can be put down to the increasing number of iPad sales:
What we can conclude is that even users of products as simple and intuitive to use as the iPad search the Web for Help on how to use it. If you decide not to provide that Help, then users are likely to get the information from someone else – either in a forum, a YouTube video, blog, Web site etc. Places generally, outside of your control.
At the UAEurope 12 conference, SAP’s Keren Okman quoted a shocking statistic: that the average mobile or tablet app* is used an average of just 3-4 times by a user.
The issue of “app abandonment” is one that is likely to be of greater concern for software developers in the future, as they invest ever increasing amounts of time and money into developing apps for tablets and mobile devices.
Keren said SAP’s response has been to get their Technical Authors involved in writing the product descriptions displayed in app stores. This is the information people read before deciding to purchase. They plan to rewrite these descriptions and provide more guidance on how to use the produce before customers get started.
In the same way that developers are now considering a “mobile first” strategy when they develop new software and web sites, we may be seeing the beginnings of a “Help first” strategy as well.
A “Help first” strategy is where developers abandon the belief in the totally intuitive app (one that sells itself, requires no online Help and only needs limited support) and recognises the limitations of mobile operating systems require Help/User Assistance to be designed into the application from the very outset of the project planning.
To prove this, developers can use A/B testing to reduce app abandonment and evaluate how much User Assistance is needed.
Unfortunately, if app developers leave the planning for Help to the end, then their app has probably already failed.
*App is a term used for software applications for mobile and tablet devices.