Sources for online help tool: FAQ and "helpdesk"combined

9 Aug 2006 - 7:35pm
8 years ago
1 reply
476 reads
jbellis
2005

LePo,
As a long-time help author, I'm very interested in this. Ultimately I'd like
to get more details about your quest, but in exchange I'll offer something.
First, the following link shows a page with a novel help button on a lot of
fields:
http://www.wikimatrix.org/compare/TWiki+Confluence+XWiki

People aren't tempted by simple things; they are tempted by tempting things.
My point isn't to "split hairs" but to get to the issue. To make an
interactive feature tempting takes compelling interaction, seductive art,
and possibly things to tempt the other senses, though Huxley's smellovision
hasn't been offered even by Google. Yet. But the goal isn't to make help
tempting.

With approx 4 billion websites, perhaps there's a reason you haven't seen
great examples... it's a contradiction in terms. What's simple to the vendor
is not simple to the confused user and vice versa. Email is simple: a
confused user asks EXACTLY what they want and the most complicated
knowledgebase in the world, a human brain, answers it.("Pureplay" websites
would sooner drop dead than offer human help.) No other FAQ interface is
simple to the user, no matter how tempting you make it to access. The only
solution is to code all the answers right into the interface. I wrote a long
article on all of those techniques recently:
http://usabilityinstitute.com/reviews/freshbooks/freshbooks.htm
Maybe the "Fly-In Help" example on that page will interest you.

If your only resort does end up being a standalone FAQ/Help display,
simplicity is important but no longer the limiting factor. The only issue
becomes whether it answers their question. Only that will "tempt" them to
ever click that Help link again. PayPal's help is a decent model that
balances previewing power with technical simplicity/speed, but there's
nothing compelling about it other than answers..

-Jack
www.WorkAtHomeWednesday.com
----- Original Message -----
From: "Anu Leponiemi" <anu at lepo.net>
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Sources for online help tool: FAQ and
"helpdesk"combined

> I'm currently searching for a usable user interface solution for an
> online "help tool", which would combine FAQ and helpdesk at company.com.
> The idea is to offer so simple and tempting user interface to FAQ,
> that users would prefer that to sending the e-mail.
>
> I guess the problem is quite universal among web sites, but so far, I
> have found no good examples of how to implement this. Does anyone
> here happen to remember any good solutions somewhere in the web?
>
> Thanks for reading this far :)
>
> LePo
>

Comments

16 Aug 2006 - 2:20am
Anu Leponiemi
2006

Thanks Jack

for your answer. I agree: if help is needed, then it should be
offered in context whenever possible. And thanks for the fly-in
solution - it may have some potential with our site as well.

For this particular problem, however, I found the reference to PayPal
help solution being most useful: deep inside, it is close to our
current implementation, but the user interface is much more logical.
This kind "easy to alter" solution works best in this situation,
where there's no time, but something *has* to be done quick. :)

And thanks, Joe, as well, I'll check your references for the help
products for later situations.

LePo

On Aug 10, 2006, at 4:35 AM, jackbellis.com wrote:

> LePo,
> As a long-time help author, I'm very interested in this. Ultimately
> I'd like
> to get more details about your quest, but in exchange I'll offer
> something.
> First, the following link shows a page with a novel help button on
> a lot of
> fields:
> http://www.wikimatrix.org/compare/TWiki+Confluence+XWiki
>
> People aren't tempted by simple things; they are tempted by
> tempting things.
> My point isn't to "split hairs" but to get to the issue. To make an
> interactive feature tempting takes compelling interaction,
> seductive art,
> and possibly things to tempt the other senses, though Huxley's
> smellovision
> hasn't been offered even by Google. Yet. But the goal isn't to make
> help
> tempting.
>
> With approx 4 billion websites, perhaps there's a reason you
> haven't seen
> great examples... it's a contradiction in terms. What's simple to
> the vendor
> is not simple to the confused user and vice versa. Email is simple: a
> confused user asks EXACTLY what they want and the most complicated
> knowledgebase in the world, a human brain, answers it.("Pureplay"
> websites
> would sooner drop dead than offer human help.) No other FAQ
> interface is
> simple to the user, no matter how tempting you make it to access.
> The only
> solution is to code all the answers right into the interface. I
> wrote a long
> article on all of those techniques recently:
> http://usabilityinstitute.com/reviews/freshbooks/freshbooks.htm
> Maybe the "Fly-In Help" example on that page will interest you.
>
> If your only resort does end up being a standalone FAQ/Help display,
> simplicity is important but no longer the limiting factor. The only
> issue
> becomes whether it answers their question. Only that will "tempt"
> them to
> ever click that Help link again. PayPal's help is a decent model that
> balances previewing power with technical simplicity/speed, but there's
> nothing compelling about it other than answers..
>
> -Jack
> www.WorkAtHomeWednesday.com
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Anu Leponiemi" <anu at lepo.net>
> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Sources for online help tool: FAQ and
> "helpdesk"combined
>
>
>> I'm currently searching for a usable user interface solution for an
>> online "help tool", which would combine FAQ and helpdesk at company.com.
>> The idea is to offer so simple and tempting user interface to FAQ,
>> that users would prefer that to sending the e-mail.
>>
>> I guess the problem is quite universal among web sites, but so far, I
>> have found no good examples of how to implement this. Does anyone
>> here happen to remember any good solutions somewhere in the web?
>>
>> Thanks for reading this far :)
>>
>> LePo
>>
>
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