Oracle Applications User Experience Direct    User Experience Direct (UX Direct) is a program by Oracle Applications-UX to...
6. Focus on Text Quality                                      These basic embedded help types may be called               ...
example, those offered by the Application Development        the assembly” use a phrase such as “Display and modifyFramewo...
Copyright © 2011, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is provided for information purposes on...
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How to Design Great Embedded UI Help for Oracle Enterprise Applications


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Designing great online help and demos for enterprise apps such as Oracle Fusion Applications using Oracle ADF and Apps-UX design patterns and guidance. By Ultan O'Broin (@ultan) for Oracle UX Direct. More at:

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Transcript of "How to Design Great Embedded UI Help for Oracle Enterprise Applications"

  1. 1. Oracle Applications User Experience Direct User Experience Direct (UX Direct) is a program by Oracle Applications-UX to provide user experience expertise to Oracle customers and partners for their implementations, customizations, and usage of our enterprise applications. The goal of this program is to enhance end user experiences during and after customer implementations and improve user adoption of our enterprise applications.User Experience Direct: Creating Embedded Help the page by themselves? What components are causingOverview the problem? Is there too much information on the pageWhen strategically placed and well worded on an confusing users that a more progressive disclosure canapplication page, embedded help enables users to address? Is the terminology on the page causing thequickly complete tasks, avoid errors, and eliminate the problem? Are the labels familiar to your users expertiseneed for additional help, training, or help desk calls. and domain? Change the UI labels first, rather thanEmbedded help is sometimes referred to as instruction or adding help. Refer to your UX Direct Heuristicsdescription text. Evaluation How-To Checklist. 3. Use Help Contextually Place embedded help where users can easily see it while performing their tasks. Make sure that the information provided is relevant to the user and the task.Embedded help explains to users the purpose ormeaning of a component, how to enter data and what 4. Apply Help Selectivelyhappens to it, and how to perform tasks and actions in a Use embedded help only when it may be needed by thetruly user-centered way, without leaving the page. Use user, not as a design feature to balance a page. Do notthis document to understand and design embedded help overload the page with unnecessary help, or with wordythat enables users to work productively with an text, as it creates UI clutter, slows down users, andapplication. detracts from usability rather than enhancing it.Embedded Help Design Checklist 5. Keep Users on The Page They Are Working On1. Understand Your Users Make embedded help all the assistance that users needBefore designing help, understand the audience that will so that they never have to leave the page they areuse it. What is the target users level of expertise, domain working on.knowledge, and skills? What tasks do typical users need Rely first on the usability intuitiveness of the page perform with the application in their work? What is the Then pay special attention to the meanings of UIfrequency of the task performed? Users need less help components (if you cannot change the names), to userfor often-performed tasks. What is the complexity of the anticipation about required fields or what happens if thetask? Users need more help for more complex tasks. user leaves a field empty, to the downstream implicationsRemember that different users may use the same page of user decisions or inputs (such as how data is used orin different ways. Refer to the User Profiles checklist how the application will respond), or to any differencesfrom UX Direct. that might result from users choices or different2. Find Usability Pain Points and Redesign selections.Never use embedded help as a workaround for a majorusability failing. Locate the problem area, redesign thepage, and retest it. Then decide if you need to addembedded help. For example, what high frequency tasksare causing a problem? Can users quickly learn to use
  2. 2. 6. Focus on Text Quality These basic embedded help types may be called different names across different Oracle applications, andWrite in plain language. Spell check your work. Improve there may be different presentations possible too.readability by keeping sentences short, avoidingsymbols, unfamiliar acronyms and abbreviations, 1. Instruction Helpparentheses, and semicolons. It is acceptable to refer to Instruction help takes the form of either static text on athe names of user interface components in the text, but page or region or is shown in a note window when usersmake sure those names are accurate and reflect what is activate a field or other editable component on the page.actually on the page. Use action verbs where possible,explaining to users how to use things or how the Use instruction text only when typical users fail toapplication will use their inputs. Address the user as you, perform a task without help or are caused to stop andand omit the word please. Be concise and avoid consider the implications or format of any data theysuperfluous phrases such as used to, in order to, if you enter.want to, and so on. Static text explains how users typically use a page or region on a page. When using static instruction text for tips or other productivity information, use a tip icon to call attention to the information.7. Match the Help Type to User Need Static text on a page or region should not exceed twoDecide whether your embedded help is instructional lines in length. Place the text underneath a header or(how to perform tasks or use a component) or descriptive subheader. Two or three uses of text on a page are(describes the purpose or meaning of a component). acceptable, if necessary.8. Let Users Learn from Help Their WayAllow users to turn off embedded help after first use, orby user preference, if your application supports thatfunctionality. Users will learn from embedded help, so Field-level instructional help enables users to enter thethey will not need it if they use the page frequently. correct data in a field (for example, the type or format ofHowever, do not substitute personalization ability for entered data) or to understand in advance how that dataconcise and relevant positioning of help. Check your is used downstream by the application. Provide andevelopment guide for information on providing example if needed.personalization features for embedded help.Types of Embedded HelpThere are two kinds of embedded help: instruction textand description text. Each type is shown to the users in If the application validates the data entered in the field,different ways. Using a simple embedded help typology integrate the field-level help with any error and warninglike this helps you to design consistently, use a common messages that appear if the wrong data is entered.look and feel, tailor your application to the user moreeasily, and increase learnability as users become familiar Check if you application’s development environmentwith what each type of help does. supports delivered validators and converters (for
  3. 3. example, those offered by the Application Development the assembly” use a phrase such as “Display and modifyFramework) and use those components instead of flow schedules at the detail level of the assembly.”writing instructional text for data fields.Field-level help should be short, one or two sentences inlength at maximum, as a larger note window mayobscure other UI components or distract the user.Use the imperative voice with action verbs for staticinstruction text or note windows help to explain to users Use a definitional style for any help icon-based tooltipswhat they need to do. For example “Select from all that explain the purpose or meaning of a component. Dodefined consolidation groups, including the consolidation not repeat the name of the component in the text, andgroup created for your legislative data group.” omit leading articles from the text to make it concise. For2. Description Help example, use a phrase such as “Record of anticipated financial expenditures of any type” for the EncumbranceDescription help takes the form of tooltip text on prompt instead of “An encumbrance is a record ofcomponents that explain the purpose of the UI element, anticipated financial expenditures of any type.”for example, on links, tabs, icons, menu items, buttons,and so on. It may also explain the meaning of a Conclusioncomponent using a tooltip activated from a help icon near Finally, remember that embedded help, like other usera component (sometimes referred to as a terminology assistance components such as messages, online help,definition). and so on, is part of the overall user experience. Embedded help is intended to help users complete tasks. Embedded help, correctly designed, enhances the application while reducing the need for additional training and support. Approach the creation and usage of embedded help with the same care as the rest of the application, using your user-centered design materials available from UX Direct.Use descriptive help in tooltips to tell users about thecomponent itself where there is no visible prompt or labelon the component, for example on some images oraction buttons.Provide information about menu items, links, toolbarbuttons, and so on, where the name of that componentisnt sufficient to explain the component’s purpose ornon-obvious meaning.Explain to users the purpose of the component, ratherthan how to use it. For example, users know how to clicka link, but may not know what the link is for, so omitphrases such as “Click the link” and similarconstructions. For example, instead of “Click this link todisplay and modify flow schedules at the detail level of
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