ROMAN9

tech comm – elearning – information experience


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Five help design favourites

“Is it OK to make the help button go straight to the support home page?”

It is great that you are making more of your tech comms content available online. However, jettisoning your users mid-task onto a generic landing page can be frustrating.

The Administration area of a WordPress blog has some really nice help design, which I have used in this post to demonstrate some alternatives.

Here, the help design feels:

  1. Predictable
  2. Clear
  3. Context-sensitive
  4. Linked to in-depth topics
  5. Dynamic and up-to-date

1. Predictable

The help button behaviour is predictable, before I have even selected it. The downward pointing arrow gives me the message that I am a) going to stay exactly where I am and b) going to get some expanded text or options.

Screenshot of WordPress help button

2. Clear

The word “Help” in a decent size relative to the rest of the content on the screen makes it easy to find.

3. Context-sensitive

Once I select Help, the content is contextual.

Screenshot of expanded WordPress help

4. Links to more

I also have access to general help categories. Following these links is going to take me away from the page to the support web site, but I get to a specific area I have chosen while I am still in context.

Screenshot of links in WordPress help

5. Dynamic and up-to-date

Once I select, for example, the Get Help Media category, the links I get look dynamic – updates to the WordPress Support web site may be feeding directly into the display area in help.

Do you have a help design favourite which you would like to use in a help makeover?


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The 5 minute eLearning script planner

“We want more help and training as video content, and we want it fast!”

Take a 2-3 minute “how to” tutorial video with voice over as an example. Writing a script has lots of benefits including keeping your video short and on-task. A good quality script comes from a good plan for what you want your video to achieve.

Let’s get visual

I have adapted an excellent teaching resource, The 5 minute Lesson Plan by Ross McGill (@TeacherToolkit), to plan the script. You can download the original from Ross’s blog. This is how it looks, completed, in about 5 minutes.

Image of 5-minute planner

These steps look arduous when you write them in a list, like I have below. That is the beauty of the visual style of this planner. If you respond well to the visual layout, the ideas flow quickly – we are looking for bullets and key words to crystallize your plan.

  • The BIG picture – where does this fit into the video series, learning stage, or overall theme. The big picture answer to “why should I spend 2 minutes of my time on this?”.
  • Objectives – at a lower level, what do you want this specific video to achieve, what I will have learnt after watching it?
  • Engagement – what’s the hook to keep people watching after the first few seconds?
  • Stickability – what techniques can you use to reinforce learning and make it last?
  • AfL – Stands for “assessment for learning”. How can you measure that your video has been successful and that the person watching it is in a better place after watching than before?
  • Words along the way – terminology which may be new to the audience, and/or important to the overall understanding of the topic
  • Differentiation – ignore the levels here, they relate to the UK National Curriculum. But still a good one to consider. How have you handled different levels of prior knowledge and technical ability?
  • Learning Episodes (x4) – you don’t have to use all of these. They are useful to help you to split up “concept” and “task-based” sections of the video, and can map to what you wrote in Objectives.

Moving from plan to execution

If this approach works for you, and you are using a tool like Captivate, you may want to go straight into it and write the full text for your script slide-by-slide using the Text-To-Speech/Closed Captions feature. You can then export to get the full script reviewed. Alternatively, write out the full script in a storyboard style with placeholder graphics and graphic directions.

Whichever approach you take, the idea is to refer back to your visual plan to keep your full text script as tight and relevant as it can be.

Would this planner help you? Do you have other techniques or tools which work well for you?