Re: How do enterprise software companies offer help?

Subject: Re: How do enterprise software companies offer help?
From: Steven Jong <stevefjong -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: TECHWR-L Digest <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 9 Sep 2015 23:05:12 -0400

Hi, John! The group I work in at Oracle asks everyone to read _Developing Quality Technical Information, 3rd Edition_, by Michelle Carey et al. I read the first edition before, and I was stuck, in the Third Edition, by the switch in emphasis from written help to user assistance embedded within the user interface. They advocate the writer taking ownership of essentially all the words in the product, whether itâs the labels on fields, the help, or even the labels on hardware.

What Oracle wants us to do is still somewhat TBD and different from the book, but DQTI3 lays out no fewer than eight levels:

Programmatic assistance (such as default values)
Labels (on fields, on hardware)
Input hints (within fields)
Static text (explanations near fields)
Static text for windows (explanations for the whole window or page)
Hover help (which pops up if the user lingers on an object)
Messages (status and error)
Assistance linked from the interface (that is, online help)

One can keep going and add the âtraditionalâ levels:

Offline help (a different way to describe PDFs and printed documentation)
Website pages (FAQs, etc.)
Support sites

Thatâs 15 levels! That should keep you busy for a while 8^)

â Steve

Steven Jong
mailto:SteveFJong -at- comcast -dot- net
Mobile: 978-413-2553
Home sweet home page:

âReading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.ââFrancis Bacon

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