Contextual instructional content vs. separate "user guides"
28 Nov 2005 - 1:00pm
10 years ago
Web user guides are the albatross of our organization (health insurance
company). The practice is that if users (members who use our site to
manage their claims, benefits etc.) are confused, solve the problem by
creating PDF user guides or paper manuals with a screen shot of every
page of the site (literally - "Here are the pages you will see as you
enter the site...").
I've been tasked with creating an anti-user guide campaign and need to
champion better contextual instructional content. I'd like to include
analogies and examples of sites that do contextual instructional content
really well, particularly for transactional applications with more than
one step (e.g. buying something, searching for something with specific
parameters such as name and location in a doctor search, signing up for
a service etc.). My typical analogy is that if you visit amazon.com to
order a book, you don't have to (or want to) download, print and read a
50 page user guide full of screen shots to make your purchase. You
expect the process to be explained on each page contextually so that you
can complete your transaction without going off the site or worse -
reading a paper document at your desk.
(This is a book. To begin, open the cover and start reading from left to
right. Here is a picture of the first page you will see in the book.