Interface Design In Software SolutionsDesign of Help Screens
All user interfaces should have some form of help system.
There are two kinds of help:
Help, I have a problem.
Help, I need some information.
All help messages should be:
Use appropriate level of language
Direct to user
Positive and provide actions
Have difficult choices
Provide helpThere are a number of different methods of providing help to users:
1. Context Sensitive Help
If a user specifically asks for help then a new window may be displayedcontaining information about the user previous or current action.
The help screen is usually small and should be activated when a users focuseson certain screen elements.
2. Procedural Help
Should provide concise and accurate instructions on how to complete a specifictask.
Procedural help aims to explain “how” a task is accomplished rather than what itis and why it needs to be done.
The help screen to access procedural help should contain contents, index andsearch facility.
3. Conceptual Help
Conceptual help aims to explain information about “what” and “why” rather than“how”.
The concepts behind a task should be explained e.g. explaining “why” files needto be saved.
Conceptual help is accessed within procedural help topic. For instance ahyperlink to explain why it is necessary to save files.
4. Tutorials & Wizards
Follow a set of screens and structures that show users how to use applications.