Designing Your Help Files

When designing help files for your website you should consider several things. As mentioned in my previous post the feel of the help pages should be considered. Help and error messages should appear as non-threatening as possible to avoid negative experiences associated with your website. The actual content of the help file should also be considered to make it easily understandable. When writing the contents of the help file you should remember to:

  • be concise as possible - Avoid using lengthy paragraphs and use bullet points for easier reading.
  • use simple words - Avoid using technical words as much as possible and if you have to make sure that there is an explanation to accompany the technical term. Provide a glossary if you have to.
  • not take anything for granted - What might be obvious to you might not be to your user. Because of this provide help/information even for the most obvious of things.
  • be organized - Make sure the Help file is helpful and won’t further confuse your users by making it hard to look for the information they need. Give an outline to make it easier for users to find topics.

Accessibility to the Help’s contents should also be considered. To make information easily accessible add a search box in your site so that users can simply search for answers to their queries.

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