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Creating an Online Help System for Logical Ink. Peggy Harvey ENG 675 April 20, 2010. Agenda. Background Problem Initial Concerns Decisions and Challenges Result What’s Next. Background. Logical Progression is a start-up company that provides tablet-based software solutions

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creating an online help system for logical ink

Creating an Online Help System for Logical Ink

Peggy Harvey

ENG 675

April 20, 2010

agenda
Agenda
  • Background
  • Problem
  • Initial Concerns
  • Decisions and Challenges
  • Result
  • What’s Next
background
Background
  • Logical Progression is a start-up company that provides tablet-based software solutions
  • Logical Ink is an electronic charting solution for healthcare
problem
Problem
  • Provide documentation for the new version of Logical Ink Server
  • Prior versions were configured by Logical Progression staff
  • New version is a Web portal intended to give end users access to the server backend
  • Help system integrated into product more likely to be used by audience
initial concerns
Initial Concerns
  • I’m not a Logical Progression employee.
  • I’m not regularly on site.
  • Disconnect between the Logical Ink Server development schedule and my ENG 675 deadlines.
initial concerns alleviated
Initial Concerns Alleviated
  • Chris was very supportive of my project and wanted me to succeed.
  • Chris provided information whenever I needed it.
  • For ENG 675, I developed the Help system completely from the product specification.
slide7
What…
  • Type of Help system?
  • Level of quality?
  • Design elements?
  • Navigation elements?
  • Content to include or exclude?
decisions
Decisions
  • Help system: HTML Help
  • Quality: Basic, version 1.0 (ENG 518)
  • Design: Simple (ENG 517, ENG 508)
  • Navigation: Cross-references, hyperlinks, index
content
Content
  • Focus on what users need (ENG 512)
  • Usable, useful content (ENG 508)
  • Task-centered, minimalist approach based on user scenarios (ENG 518)
  • Effective information architecture (ENG 518)
  • Consistency to accommodate non-linear format
challenge no usability studies
Challenge: No Usability Studies
  • How much contextual information do users need?
  • What level of detail should be included?
  • What kind of information are users looking for?
slide11
How…
  • Creating a Help system requires authoring tools
  • Incorporate best practices
  • Wanted to use a long-term, maintainable process
challenge 1 no precedent
Challenge #1: No Precedent
  • Effectively building a tech comm department on my own
  • Had to develop the entire documentation process from the ground up
dita darwin information typing architecture
DITA – Darwin Information Typing Architecture
  • XML architecture
  • “Chunks” information into individual topics
  • Single-sourcing
  • Reuse
  • Human-readable files
challenge 2 dita
Challenge #2: DITA
  • DITA is complicated and very difficult to learn on your own
  • Didn’t know where to start
  • Tried to learn Structured FrameMaker interface at same time
  • Eventually ran out of time
challenge 3 tools
Challenge #3: Tools
  • After DITA failed, still had learning curve with backup solution
  • Needed to re-teach myself FrameMaker
  • Dealt with technological issues as they came
result
Result
  • Working, functional Help system based on the product specification
  • Lack of user data means Help system 1.0 is in effect a test system
what s next
What’s Next?
  • Match Help system to the actual product
  • Add context-sensitive hooks
  • Usability testing on product and documentation
  • Hand-off of source files to Logical Progression