Does looking at online Help make users forget?

Over the weekend, Dr Chris Atherton suggested I look at “the doorway effect”. You may well have experienced walking through a doorway and then finding you’d forgotten why you’d stood up in the first place. Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have discovered your brain is not to blame for your confusion about what you’re doing in… Read more »

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… Read more »

Towards Flow-Based User Assistance

Flow theory is a psychological concept that is gaining interest in e-learning. It is a concept that should be also considered in the fields of User Assistance and Technical Communication. Flow is akin to sportsmen being “in the zone” – flow is the situation where people are happiest when they are completely engaged in a task. Online Help… Read more »

How software users become champions

Matthew Syed is a British sports journalist and former three times Commonwealth Games gold medallist, who has been investigating what is needed to make people excellent at doing any task involving complexity. He argues that natural talent, your genes, are far less important than many people think. What’s important is practising what you can’t quite do…. Read more »

Will the growth of tablet and mobile phone based reading lead to the return of Clippy?

Microsoft Clippy (aka “Office Assistant” or “Clipit”) is a feature remembered by many users of Microsoft Word. It assisted users by way of an interactive animated character, which interfaced with Office’s online Help. Although the concept of “embedded” or “persistent” Help was good, its application in the real-life working environment was not well received. With more and more… Read more »