Creating the "User Help System" - is there a case for too much information?

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  2. 4 months ago

    Steve K

    May 17 Melbourne, Australia
    Edited 4 months ago

    Thanks Julia, Yes you are right - it's time to get someone else to test it.

    I have someone lined up and they at least understand the purpose of the software. I was going to release it to them, but my brother pointed out that it would not be a good idea if there wasn't a good help system. So that's where I am now. I was trying to avoid it. silly really.

    The person I have in mind has told me that they aren't that great with computers - so possibly they would be the perfect candidate?

    As per Marks suggestion, I've changed the ? symbol icons to an "i" and blue with white text. I think it does look better but I'm happy for anyone to choose a colour - perhaps the blue is too bright?

    Nevertheless, the icons only appear when the main "i" icon is "toggled" - I could probably get rid of the word Help.

    Help/Info toggled ON:

    -image-

    toggled OFF: (much cleaner)

    -image-

    That awful green play/replay icon (r/h side of the graph window) could be a dark grey?

    It's taken 2 years+ (part time) to get this point. I do need/want this to be tested, but this help system is the final hurdle and it's becoming the hardest part to overcome.

  3. Sascha S

    May 17 Pre-Release Testers, Xojo Pro Germany/W'haven

    Just wanted to say that the App looks beautifull. :)

  4. Jared F

    May 17 Pre-Release Testers, Xojo Pro Milwaukee, WI

    If you are concerned about people noticing where the help icons are on screen (though the blue color and traditional information symbol definitely help), a commonly used solution is provide a little animation to draw attention when they are shown.

    -image-

    Here's the project if you want to play around with it:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/q7uf6rczrogte6j/Growing%20Circle.xojo_binary_project?dl=1

  5. Julia T

    May 17 Sandy Hook, Connecticut
    Edited 4 months ago

    @SaschaSchneppmueller Just wanted to say that the App looks beautifull. :)

    I agree, it's very cool. Slightly "retro", but in a way I like that better than some of the more slick "tablet-looking" apps you see these days.

  6. Julia T

    May 17 Sandy Hook, Connecticut

    @SteveKelepouris That awful green play/replay icon (r/h side of the graph window) could be a dark grey?.

    Nah, the green is good - color communicates. And imho, the orange question marks went better with the overall color scheme and "feel" than the blue "I"s.

  7. Steve K

    May 17 Melbourne, Australia
    Edited 4 months ago

    @Julia T Nah, the green is good - color communicates. And imho, the orange question marks went better with the overall color scheme and "feel" than the blue "I"s.

    Interesting. Like I said before, I would have spent hours mulling over that orange colour (seriously). I tried to make it look subtle yet obvious.

    The software itself is quite complicated. I remember being told on this forum to have a separate window for the recording panel, otherwise you'll run into problems - which I have and it's made everything harder. But I think I've overcome that issue. But It just "had" to be one window - that was the concept.

    So if I kept the orange scheme but changed the ? symbol to the "i" - what about that?

  8. Julia T

    May 17 Sandy Hook, Connecticut

    @SteveKelepouris So if I kept the orange scheme but changed the ? symbol to the "i" - what about that?

    I think that might be weird - people are used to seeing the "i" in a blue circle. The question marks didn't bother me, especially since they're hidden unless the "master" is activated (good feature). Ultimately it's your baby, and an extension of your personality and aesthetic. I'm pretty sure it's for a pretty niche market anyway, so I wouldn't sweat it too much :)

  9. Steve K

    May 17 Melbourne, Australia

    Hmmm - lots to think about.

    2.45am and time for me to toddle off, get some sleep and go to my paying job in the morning.

  10. 3 months ago

    Steve K

    Jun 13 Melbourne, Australia

    It's been around 3 weeks or more, and it's really taking a toll on my enthusiasm.

    Creating code and learning code is far more interesting to me than having to create this technical documentation. As my "real" job I work in pre-press for a printing company and over the years have had to endure many laborious tasks creating layouts - and sometimes creating basic technical manuals on occasion, but this if far worse.

    Normally if I was coding, I would do a couple of hours after work - but now I find I'm leaving it for a few days before I can summon up the enthusiasm to do some more writing (including the graphic content).

    I think part of the problem is that my software solution "IS" complicated to use - which I cannot change. Therefore the documentation is becoming long - I envisage around 100 pages of A4/Letter size paper if printed - and I'm about 1/4 of the way through.

    I'm just having a gripe and don't expect that there is an easy solution, and I'll just have to plod along - although I'd be interested to know you thoughts, ie. if the below sample seems too verbose. I'm trying to cut things back, as per my original question: ... "is there a case for too much info?"

    Obviously this will be hard to understand in one sense, but overall, how well does it flow? Can you make sense of it?

    The first half is ok, and then it goes off the rails, and apologies for the pile of gobbledegook at the end, as it's unfinished.

    -image-

  11. Julia T

    Jun 13 Sandy Hook, Connecticut
    Edited 3 months ago

    Wonderful! Such a pleasure to see real, detailed documentation in this era of "here's your app, figure it out yourself or search online". I like the way you anticipate user questions by explaining things that might look odd, and how you also explain the rationale for the way things are done. I know it's a chore, but you'll be able to sleep at night knowing you did the right thing and produced a quality product. Well done.

  12. Steve K

    Jun 13 Melbourne, Australia

    Thanks Julia, your positive critique means a lot to me and gives me confidence to keep going along with it.

    Thank you.

  13. Andre K

    Jun 13 Pre-Release Testers

    I see a real artist and a real technician making a very pleasant reading manual. Please don't give up, it's an example for how very good explanations should be!

  14. Mark C

    Jun 13 Pre-Release Testers, Xojo Pro Spain 35510

    late to the party, those blue 'i' look great to me! good luck and keep the ball rolling.

  15. Philip C

    Jun 14 Pre-Release Testers, Xojo Pro Cooroy, QLD, Australia

    Thank you for showing what you have done. It encourages me to do the same with my software. Have you looked at the application “Dr Explain” www.drexplain.com.
    Only has a windows version, but that might interest you.
    good luck and best wishes.

  16. Bill

    Jun 15 Pre-Release Testers, Xojo Pro Longview Texas

    I 2nd what Julia said, how nice to see real documentation again. Nicely done.

  17. Steve K

    Jun 20 Melbourne, Australia
    Edited 3 months ago

    Thanks for all the positive comments. For this app, I'm going to continue with the "old school" manual method but will look at quicker methods for future apps.

    It's a slog at the moment, but what it has forced me to do is to consider every step from the "User" point of view, which then has to be explained - in the shortest way possible - before I go mad :(

    One thing that has come up before I can go any further with my help system, is what I described on 17th of May (unfortunately we don't have post numbers). In any case, I've changed the ? symbol to "i" which is more appropriate, as in "information" and therefore does not compete with "Help" under the standard menu.

    This is where I'm at. "i" is best, but which colour do you prefer? Blue or Orange? This has become important because I'm taking screen shots for the help system and I don't want to go back and replace images.

    So, based on the feedback I get from this, will be the way forward. Blue or Orange?

    -image-
    -image-

    No other options PLEASE, unless it is really compelling :)

  18. Emile S

    Jun 20 Europe (France, Strasbourg)

    I can’t watch the images from here (filtered), but blue is the color you are searching (just like when you are in the street and want to reach an information point ;) ).

  19. No other options PLEASE, unless it is really compelling

    Steve,
    I cannot say that what I'm going to suggest is really compelling. Anyway:
    to my eyes the blue blends well with the left pane, while the orange blends well with the right portion of the window.
    So, I'd make a try with "i" in a pale green circle.

  20. Steve K

    Jun 20 Melbourne, Australia

    Thanks Emile.

    @Emile S ... just like when you are in the street and want to reach an information point ;) )...

    Perhaps you mean, when you are in the street and reach an information point - you get the information required.

    My program has the main "help" system (which I'm still writing). The "Information" system is just a shortcut to the point of interest within the help system. Essentially, they are one and the same.

    To take your analogy further, I would say that my "information"system is like a contents page of a travel book. Let's say you have traveled to the wonderful city of Melbourne in Australia. That whole book tells you what to see etc. but it is way too much information.

    So you click on the "i" information icon in the contents pages and are immediately transported there. Taken directly to your point of interest. It doesn't mean that you have no interest in the rest, but you just want to know what it's about, at that place in time.

    The hard thing is that I'm creating a help system "within" a help system. I'm breaking it into bits via the "information" icons. The reason it's hard is because EVERYTHING happens in one window. I wanted it that way - it needs to be that way and therefore can look confusing and overwhelming, but I cannot change it.

    There are many other "unconventional" concepts that I've used in this software application that may well either turn back on me, and "bite me on the !@#$%" or be seen as a "breath of fresh air".

    Time will tell.

  21. Steve K

    Jun 20 Melbourne, Australia
    Edited 3 months ago

    @Carlo R Steve,
    I cannot say that what I'm going to suggest is really compelling. Anyway:
    to my eyes the blue blends well with the left pane, while the orange blends well with the right portion of the window.
    So, I'd make a try with "i" in a pale green circle.

    Thanks Carlo. If you can give me the RGB values for your green, then I guess there's no harm in trying it.

    A good point to remember is that the "i" icons are toggled on/off via the main icon as shown above. Therefore not always shown.

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