4 Replies Latest reply on Mar 18, 2008 10:50 AM by Chet Zeshonski

    Design / Formatting Help Needed

    Davilam
      Good Afternoon,

      I am in the process of developing a help system to support a proprietary green screen application that we use in our organization… the green screen application is very convoluted and all steps/processes etc to be completed in the system have many many steps to complete. In order to not overwhelm the end user, in any given help topic there are multiple subtopics that are “hidden” until the DHTML dropdown hot spot is activated.

      Within each hotspot, there are also “sub hot spots”. However, this is confusing to the user… there are so many hotspots etc (both hotspots from the main topic page and “sub” hotspots within a hotspot) that the user is losing track of where they are at.

      I was wondering if anyone had an general design recommendations or best practice recommendations that I should be adhering to in order to eliminate this confusion.

      Thanks!
        • 1. Re: Design / Formatting Help Needed
          RoboColum(n) Level 5
          Hi Davilam.
          I'd agree that the use of too many dropdowns can be disconcerting to the user. Could you use Browse Sequences to guide the users through the steps. I doubt there are specific design recommendations as it depends on so many factors.
          • 2. Design / Formatting Help Needed
            Linux Rules Level 2
            Hello Devilam -

            Are the steps/processes conducive to displaying as a flow chart? If so, each step, decision, response, etc. could be image mapped to a "Display in auto-sizing popup".

            Hmm, just thinking out loud - "green screen" as in monochrome monitor? If so, can it display any type of graphic image (bmp, jpg sans color) or only ASACII? If ASCII only, my suggestion will not work.

            Regards,
            GEWB
            • 3. Re: Design / Formatting Help Needed
              Author care Level 2
              Hi Davilam,
              One thing I would recommend, is to avoid using drop downs nested within dropdowns as this often affects the performance of the help file. Keep your structure as simple as possible and don't present the reader with too many options at once. If you have a lot of options, group them into managable chunks.
              • 4. Re: Design / Formatting Help Needed
                I've used hotspots within hotspots without issues. I suggest you break the information into smaller chunks if you can. If a particular task is very long, consider making it a book instead of a single topic. For example, if you assign one topic to each of five tasks, but the third task involves six steps, turn the third task into six steps/topics, and bind them as a book in your Help file. So you'll go from this:

                1. Task 1 (single topic)
                2. Task 2 (single topic)
                3. Task 3 (single topic)
                4. Task 4 (single topic)
                5. Task 5 (single topic)

                To this:

                1. Task 1 (single topic)
                2. Task 2 (single topic)
                3. Task 3 (one book with six topics)
                4. Task 4 (single topic)
                5. Task 5 (single topic)

                This kind of solution should cut down on some of the nesting.