A comment I made to one of Mark Baker’s recent posts, What is your primary media? Paper or the web? led to an interesting discussion about embedded user assistance.
In my recent webinar series on User Assistance and Cognition, I used the term Double Embeddedness to speak of embedded procedural help that has, in turn, concepts embedded in it. I also mentioned that our user assistance needs to be searchable.
In our exchange on Mark’s blog, he said,
Embedded assistance can never be comprehensive, by its nature, so there is still a role for more comprehensive information. But the place for that more comprehensive information is on the Web, where it can integrate with all the customer-produced information. People are simply going to stop looking to “the help” as an intermediate information source. They are going to start with the interface, and then go to the web.
I couldn’t agree more. Not only that, but the source of that additional material must be a true, integrated learning community, one that groups users, SME’s, developers, tech comms, marketers, and product managers in one community, sharing ideas as equal contributors (even if, eventually, some of them have decision power that others do not have).
That was one of the main points in the third webinar of the series.
If your user assistance isn’t Googleable, chances are your users are not going to find it – wherever else it happens to be.