Measuring the value of Help in desktop applications

One of the challenges for Technical Authors is quantifying the value of what they produce. For example, how can you tell how many people are reading online Help when the software is installed on someone’s desktop computer? One application mentioned in passing as last week’s UAEurope conference, ApplicationMetrics, might be able to provide the answer.

ApplicationMetrics collects usage and platform data, behind the scenes. It’s a product that is no longer being developed any more, but you can still download it. It may enable you to collect “operational funnel” data that’s similar marketing funnel data – test and track whether users are going to the help and resolving their issues.



Jeff Gutsell

Capturing metrics is a great idea, but the writer needs to “walk in the door” with a quick solution like this. I’ve not seen a project manager commit engineer resources to this. So your proposed download is a great idea.
Some good metrics:
* Users go to the help more than once. This shows they are learning to anticipate useful results. A user who never comes back to help probably feels that the help was a waste of time.
* The user gets to the help from a context-sensitive link instead of navigating many times through the help links. This is a sign that users are finding what they want quickly.
A worrisome metric:
* A sign page or topic is viewed much more often than others. This is a sign of confusion with the help content or the application design. Something may need revision.

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