Eyal Lewinsohn

How to Create Truly Context Sensitive Help

Context sensitive help is a leap of effectiveness for user help and product documentation: it provides on-page help, allowing the user to stay in-app, instead of wandering away to another tab/window and breaking her concentration by leaving “the zone”. Today, any competent technical communicator can create context sensitive help with a little help from developer from the R&D team.

 

The DIY options for creating CSH are here, but they are not perfect. We wrote a 5-step guide, with some of the process’ shortcomings, so you know where you stand when approaching the operation:

 

  1. Create a map file
  2. Write the help topics outlined in the map file
  3. Integrate the context sensitive help into the code base
  4. Publish the help topics
  5. Test

 

Let’s dig a little into each and every one of these steps:

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Video Training’s Twin Problems (and one more)

As 2016 continues to unfold, there seems to be a lot of concern about the future of training. One of the hot topics of discussions is how training should evolve to support the changing needs of the millennials, who are becoming a majority in the work force. One of the hottest trends is video training – short 2 minute videos that are easy to follow and address.

 

Don’t get me wrong – video training is a massive improvement over lengthy text documents and manuals. Training videos epitomize the desire for advanced, creative and dynamic training solutions. For a long time video training was an indication of advanced technological capabilities and superior customer service capacity. They even made poor navigation design and confusing UX forgivable, because there was a way to bridge the experience.

 

But video training comes with a pair of unavoidable twin problems – cost and decay. They are connected in that special way things that cost too much and live a very short life are. That’s the TL;DR. Here’s a breakdown of the problems:

 video training problems

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3 Problems with Context Sensitive Help Today

Time and again we are approached by technical communications experts asking if it is possible to create Context Sensitive Help (aka CSH or contextual help) using the Iridize training platform. The first time this happened I had to look up Context Sensitive Help, as the term was completely new to me. When it happened again and again it got me thinking:

 

  • Is there something missing with existing context sensitive help systems?
  • Can our own training platform provide a better solution to any of the existing problems that technical writers currently face in this arena?
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An Evolution of SaaS Analytics

Over the past few years, we have seen a rapid evolution of analytics unfold before our very eyes. Since the analytics ball is still rolling, it is exciting to see how changes in SaaS analytics design swiftly adapt to technology and marketing trends. Immediate history, analysis of current affairs and prediction, all rolled up in one. Kind of like a SaaS analytics dashboard.

Evolution-of-man

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6 words you should never, ever say to customers

6 words you should never, ever say to customers

How to Onboard New SaaS Users

Onboarding new SaaS (Software as a Service) users requires extra care, because the service element should be highlighted from the start. SaaS applications are supposed to be easily adoptable and with a minimum learning curve. Another reason adoption is critical for SaaS is because the field is highly competitive and a successful onboarding process is an essential part of outshining the competition.

 

While it goes without saying that your SaaS’ usability is a determining factor in its success, onboarding does not necessarily relate to features in your service, rather to the initial user engagement. So how do we optimize the onboarding experience for new SaaS users?

 

saas_onboarding_640

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Online Customer Support Strategies: How to Increase Self-Service Adoption

The subject of self service adoption has been gaining more and more momentum lately. Self service is no longer restricted to pumping gas or supermarket checkout: today this term applies to any form of customer support users can get through their own actions.

 

Many service providers are discovering the benefits of self service. The chief advantage is lowering customer support costs and saving valuable employee time. It is, however, important to remember the role of self-service in empowering users toward better use of your technology and a more profound understanding of how to navigate the UI.

 

increase self-service adoption

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How to Make Your Tutorial Stand Out in the Crowd

Many instruction and guidance professionals are faced with the Holy Grail of online marketing questions – how to differentiate yourself in an already flooded, highly competitive marketing environment. Advertising is costly, SEO requires an arguably worthwhile amount of work (unless you employ a fleet of writers). Instructors and Guidance professionals, however, have two advantages over most businesses trying to market themselves online:

  1. Your product is your marketing strategy: instead of having to come up with figures for a fancy infographic or pay a designer for a witty cartoon, in the hope that it will go viral – instructors can just put a taste of their stuff out there and let the search words do the crawling. The trick is, of course, to find a niche that hasn’t been exhausted, where people still look for tutorials. Or else be the early bird on a hot new topic.
  2. Use the most trivial, existing platform: youtube – instead of slaving away on another page for your website or trying to get noticed by prominent opinion-makers’ in your field, create a channel and upload your tutorials onto it.

What makes the popularity of youtube tutorials so fascinating is the fact that you can find a tutorial for any subject that comes to mind, including functions on widely popular websites with their own extensive knowledgebase or FAQ. Tutorial videos on youtube like How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, for instance, have garnered nearly 130K views. Granted, it was posted 4 years ago, but even then LinkedIn was a globally leading professional network with some kind of Help or How To page.

So how come so many users flock to youtube instead of using on-site resources, written by the product pros?

  • Accessibility to the website’s help tools -and this relates to no single website or app in particular- isn’t smooth enough, in terms of UX. After one click too many or upon encountering a complex or elaborate knowledgebase, the user opts for a system s/he is more familiar with and as such, navigates in with more ease.
  • Old habits die hard but live long and prosper – This has less to do with the website’s navigation and more to do with users tending to default to familiar browsing patterns. It is quite possible that many users simply prefer the half-automated open-youtube-search-click routine to treading an unknown terrain on a yet unfamiliar website, in terms of UX. The youtube platform is, again, comfortably familiar, no effort required to navigate a new UI.
  • Content standardization – users have come to depend on peer review, in some cases far more than on professionals. The general assumption is that your peers share your perspective and challenges and that from that POV, someone has provided the perfect guidance solution. By now, most of the top rated and most viewed tutorials on youtube are done by professionals, but the peer review assumption, most likely, prevails.

The best examples I found for good youtube promotion for instructors and guidance professionals are, unsurprisingly, in the realms of excel: A search for “how to VLOOKUP” lead me to this tutorial and from there on it was a short ride to the instructor’s About page and then to his website.

Nomenclature – What Do You Call Interactive Guides?

Back in May, Jonathan Anderson at UXMagazine started an important debate on the direction and shaping of the UX profession. This made me realize that the field of walkthrus and site tours is also in its formative days and as such, the terminology to address the thing that shows you other things around websites is, well, half baked at best.

 

It’s funny, that. Think of web and technology terms that didn’t exist or did but acquired a new context over the past 3 years and yet you wouldn’t question their meaning: Mobile, Social, Tablet. Everyone knows exactly what you mean when you refer to apps, plugins, add-ons, but there is hesitation when it comes to interactive guides, online guides, etc.

 

what-do-you-call-interactive-guides

 

Needless to say, this multiple-term conundrum has its consequences where Search and SEO results are concerned. This Babylonian term-jumble will eventually resolve itself and as far as linguistic trends and evolution are concerned – one of the terms will stick. For the time being, I did some research in an attempt to get a clearer picture of the terminology currently in use to describe what we do:

 

At Iridize, we find that On-Page Guidance is a pretty accurate description of what we do, accentuating the on-page aspect, which, we feel, is what this solution is about – providing the help on the same page the issue is, rather than sending the user to wander in the Realms of Off-Page. But this term is hardly in use, and so not very useful on the marketing front.

 

The two most common terms to describe this solution seem to be Walkthroughs and Site Tours. It should be noted, though, that in many cases the use of both Walkthrough and Site Tour actually refers to tutorial videos, presentations or screenshots.

 

Another term in use is Product Tour, used by Google Analytics (or would be, if the tour existed).

 

Interactive Guides is also a popular choice of term and it usually refers to high end graphic work combined with responsiveness to the user’s actions (mouse-over, clicks). A fine example is Microsoft’s interactive guide to Office 2010 commands.

 

There are also Introductory Tours, but they are less common, I assume because of the expression’s length.

 

Do you know of any other terms to define what we do?

The Junction Experience

Over the past several weeks, Iridize’s CTO and CEO, Oded and Eyal, have been hard at work at The Junction startup accelerator. We were fortunate to be accepted into the 8th Wave and learned a lot from the mentors, peers and instructors. We forged some great professional ties and got a boost of knowledge and skills. Thanks, Junction folks!

 

thejunction-accelerator

 

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