Re: Using screenshots in Online Help

Subject: Re: Using screenshots in Online Help
From: Martha J Davidson <editrix -at- nemasys -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2003 11:51:24 -0700

At 02:54 PM 8/18/2003 +0530, Anitha R wrote:

How many of you include screenshots in your Online Help files?

I include screenshots in both procedural topics and dialog box reference topics.

The argument being
that, when the application is readily available to the user at his desktop,
why should we provide snapshots of the application.

I have heard this argument many times, and I believe it only applies when the user is looking at the topic directly related to what is displayed on the screen at that exact moment. Otherwise, if the user found that topic by clicking a link from another topic or from the index or search function, without a screenshot, there might not be enough context to understand the rest of the topic.

This has happened to me many times. I am a casual user of graphics programs like Paint Shop Pro and Visio and often am not sure how to do X, Y, or Z. When I find myself in that situation, I consult the help, and more times than I can count I end up at a topic that describes exactly the end result of what I need, but without instructions how to get there or a picture that might help me figure that out.

In earlier days of help development an alternate argument for omitting screenshots was the necessity to keep help files small. I believe that with more and more memory and disk space for the applications themselves, this is an artificial requirement that can prevent users from finding information they might otherwise be able to figure out.


Martha Jane {Kolman | Davidson}
Dances With Words
editrix -at- nemasys -dot- com

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."
--Albert Einstein


Using screenshots in Online Help: From: Anitha R

Previous by Author: Re: blue background, white text
Next by Author: RE: Using screenshots in Online Help
Previous by Thread: Re: Using screenshots in Online Help
Next by Thread: RE: Using screenshots in Online Help

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads