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Making Help popular and useful   Nandini Gupta (nandinig@adobe.com)© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved....
Some questions I asked to understand user behavior and needs               • Why is Help not popular with users? Why aren‟...
Some research methods I used      Collect data randomly              “Boring look-and-feel”             “Not helpful beca...
Key takeaway from the survey            • Help needs to be engaging but not at the cost of accuracy and efficiency.       ...
SEO is key. Follow “an hour a day” approach.                         Help writer                                          ...
Serve content for both learning and troubleshooting.      Datamine ratings, comments, search logs, and support calls to  ...
Delight users with engaging strategies.               Printing tips | Acrobat, Reader© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. Al...
More examples of engaging strategies                 Illustrator Type tool gallery© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All R...
New front-ends: Supplement core Help with FAQs       “Users dont want documentation, they want answers – And the FAQ form ...
New front-ends: Lay out content differently to serve user needs.© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Ad...
Allow users to collaborate.      Enable commenting, rating, and moderation.      Allow users to create content and post ...
Content strategy: User-created content on niche topics© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confid...
Act on usage data and feedback.  •    Create content based on user needs  •    Meet the content needs of most users  •    ...
Create, engage, enhance, and deliver continually.© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidentia...
Suggested reading               • Mike Puterbaugh               http://mashable.com/2011/08/12/product-documentation-marke...
A few quotes to post on your soft board  “Documentation should be granular, but also social and searchable. The  best docu...
Contact us                                                          Thank You!             Contact:             Nandini Gu...
© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential.
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Nandini gupta usefulpopularhelp_tekom

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  • When creating and serving content, it helps to remember that users typically look for Help in two scenarios: when they want to learn and when they want to solve a problem. The mood and expectation of the users in one scenario is vastly different from the mood and expectation in the other. When users want to learn, they are patient and playful. When they want to solve a problem, they are time-constrained and ready-to-snap. The format of Help that works in the Laidback Learn scenario does not always work in the Quick Help scenario. For example, videos might not work as well as FAQs in the Quick Help scenario. The perception of Help as good or bad depends a lot on users in the Quick Help scenario. The trick is to track user feedback with rigor and optimize Help for these users who are looking for specific answers in Help.
  • It’s important to ensure that users find the format and presentation refreshing. Someone once tweeted “Learners are always two clicks away from Angry Birds. And that's why you'd better make teaching & learning engaging.”Today’s users interact with a diverse range of applications. Because of the variety of devices that they use and the different purposes for which they use software, the software experience of most users today is rich. In this scenario, the over-templatized clinical Help needs to make way for something that has the power to delight. We need to relook at traditional learning theories, gather data on how users are consuming the content, and break the form intelligently. While our traditional Help formats serve as a robust backend, we need to devise and deliver new front-ends to serve Help. Visuals and multimedia play an important role here. Equally important is structuring and writing style, which as user feedback suggests, needs to be efficient and engaging at the same time.I have some examples of visual docs and new front-ends.Here’s the first one:This document is one of our most-read docs. Over the years and over many updates, it had become an information dump. In an effort to cover all scenarios, reported by users over the years, readability and findability was sacrificed. A complete revamp was done and you can see how instructional design strategies, such as branching and chunking, were applied to transform a long linear doc into a visual doc.
  • Another example. This is from the Adobe Illustrator documentation:Graphics and intelligent structuring are used here. The layout is visual and easy to scan. Detailed information has been layered to allow for different user levels and needs.
  • A third example: The FAQ format is chosen here to help users easily find answers to the many questions they were repeatedly asking on various forums. The answers usually get buried in a typical user guide. The page supports different ways to navigate and allows users to engage.
  • A last one.Content on display is curated by the tech writer, sourced inhouse and from the community. You can see both learning and troubleshooting content. Plus, the page has dynamic content from social media channels.
  • Today’s Help must be social and collaborative. Instead of trying to document all that the software does or document every piece of content ourselves, we need to work with a content strategy that takes into account usage patterns and user feedback and includes content contributions from internal and external communities. Allowing users to evaluate the content (through social features, such as rating and commenting) facilitates a seamless churning that’s required to keep the most relevant content findable. Today’s technical writer needs to engage with the user community and play a larger role of a curator and a community editor. Whether it is on the forums or on social media, interacting with the community helps us identify the top issues in the software that we are documenting and gather real-world examples.
  • An example of content created by users and Quality Engineers on niche topics, such as integration of RoboHelp with third-party version control systems. A complete collaborative effort based on a content strategy to leverage the knowledge of power users on user-requested topics.
  • Diverse user preferences are a reality. As someone said “Some users want to know the concepts behind a product before they use the product. Other users want to use the software without any preamble. You cannot please everyone, but if you know your audience, you can produce documentation that is useful and acceptable to most people.” The good news is that today we have access to a vast amount of usage data and feedback to know our audience. Page views, search data, context paths, ratings, and comments – all of these data points can help us understand what our users want.
  • Making Help popular and useful requires a sea change in the way we create Help. The document development cycle can no longer end abruptly with a software release. Instead, it needs to continue well beyond a release and the phase that follows a release is an exciting phase for technical writers. In this phase, we need to engage with internal and external user communities and track usage data and feedback to enhance the core we delivered with input from different internal stakeholders. Our approach should be that of a web designer trying to make a qualitative improvement in the user experience.
  • In an article inMashable,Mike Puterbaugh made a very strong case for valuing documentation. He explained why product documentation is a great marketing asset. The article has some great advice for people who are trying to make Help useful.I also found a small blog post on a presentation called Helpful Help. The post resonated with me.
  • Some quotes I keep in from of me.
  • Transcript of "Nandini gupta usefulpopularhelp_tekom"

    1. 1. Making Help popular and useful Nandini Gupta (nandinig@adobe.com)© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential.
    2. 2. Some questions I asked to understand user behavior and needs • Why is Help not popular with users? Why aren‟t users able to find answers in Help? • What is the percentage of users who find Help useful? • Can I figure out the top five attributes that today‟s app users consider essential in Help? • Do users prefer video? Are graphics a must in Help? • When and how do users access Help? • What is the best way to serve the content created by the community? Should there be a distinct borderline between official and external content? Or should both types of content merge seamlessly? • Are blog posts written with personal anecdotes more popular? Are they more useful?© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential.
    3. 3. Some research methods I used  Collect data randomly “Boring look-and-feel” “Not helpful because has too many technical terms – It‟s called help for a reason.” “Can‟t find what I am looking for – should be upgraded more often”  Collect data from ‘live’ reviews “Can the doc be little informal.. Because en end user doesnt prefer reading such PDFs.” “We must have just cool looking visuals to depict this... which may have some some bullets.”  Collect data through a survey  Technical writers in my organization  Technical writers outside my organization  App users who are not technical writers© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 3
    4. 4. Key takeaway from the survey • Help needs to be engaging but not at the cost of accuracy and efficiency. • Create Help resources for two access scenarios: Laidback Learn and Quick Help. • Treat Help as an app. Users want an „experience‟. This could mean magical search, new front-ends, device independence, interactivity, and more. • User preferences for writing style (formal/informal), medium (text/video/FAQ), and delivery format (in browser/in viewer/offline PDF) are divergent. • The biggest pain point with Help is that users can‟t find what they are looking for.© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 4
    5. 5. SEO is key. Follow “an hour a day” approach. Help writer Help department• Write for the web - No “sea of text”. Flat • Provide strong search and navigation structure, high scannability, keyword capabilities with templates/viewers richness, dense linking • Allow push-button publishing• Structure such that a search brings up a coherent, substantive page • Provide analytics and datamining support• Optimize for search • Use terms that readers use • Encourage and facilitate cross- • Include synonyms and common functional collaboration and community misspellings building• Post updated Help frequently and amplify• Use the app‟s real estate to answer the most-asked question© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 5
    6. 6. Serve content for both learning and troubleshooting.  Datamine ratings, comments, search logs, and support calls to understand when users are looking for Help.  Create a content piece with the mode in mind. The mode impacts the length of the piece and the format.  Learning: Articles, tutorials, webinars  Troubleshooting pieces: Short focused articles, FAQ, short videos  Some considerations for selecting the right format:  Text is easier to search and localize and faster to consume.  Videos work well:  When task sequence or user interface is inherently confusing  When a complex task involves more than one tool  Optimize videos for search by introducing with “caption-like” text.  Provide duration of videos to help users decide.© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 6
    7. 7. Delight users with engaging strategies. Printing tips | Acrobat, Reader© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 7
    8. 8. More examples of engaging strategies Illustrator Type tool gallery© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 8
    9. 9. New front-ends: Supplement core Help with FAQs “Users dont want documentation, they want answers – And the FAQ form naturally is a perfect fit.”© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 9
    10. 10. New front-ends: Lay out content differently to serve user needs.© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 10
    11. 11. Allow users to collaborate.  Enable commenting, rating, and moderation.  Allow users to create content and post on your site.  Work with cross-functional team members to plan and execute a content strategy. • Content is user-responsive and improves throughout product lifecycle • Three key phases – prerelease, release, and postrelease • Content creation is collaborative – users, developers, Tech Support engineers also create content© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 11
    12. 12. Content strategy: User-created content on niche topics© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 12
    13. 13. Act on usage data and feedback. • Create content based on user needs • Meet the content needs of most users • Leverage available feedback channels • Top issues • Survey August Traffic Distribution - Captivate (All) • Comments and ratings 4,500 100% 4,000 90% • Page view, click map, and other 3,500 80% traffic analyses 3,000 70% 100, 59% 60% Cumulative % 2,500 Views 303 Views • Search reports 2,000 50% 40% 1,500 • User interaction Aug PVs 30% 1,000 Cumulative% 20% 500 10% 0 0% 109 121 133 145 157 169 181 193 205 217 229 241 253 265 277 289 301 1 13 25 37 49 61 73 85 97 Dec ID© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 13
    14. 14. Create, engage, enhance, and deliver continually.© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 14
    15. 15. Suggested reading • Mike Puterbaugh http://mashable.com/2011/08/12/product-documentation-marketing/ • Shauns Blog: My Helpful Help Presentation http://blogs.gnome.org/shaunm/2011/08/06/my-helpful-help-presentation/ • Adobe Community Help© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential.
    16. 16. A few quotes to post on your soft board “Documentation should be granular, but also social and searchable. The best documentation contains both generalist and specialist material, designed to engage each intended audience.” “In a community of creative experts, Help is not a document. It‟s a conversation. Join in.”© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 16
    17. 17. Contact us Thank You! Contact: Nandini Gupta nandinig@adobe.com Twitter: nandinizg© 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential.
    18. 18. © 2011 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential.
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