4 Replies Latest reply on Jun 21, 2011 12:19 PM by leagal99

    Hotspot Usability Guidelines and Questions

    leagal99 Level 1

      I'm the technical editor for a software company

      and we're developing guidelines for writing topics in RoboHelp. A question came up about when, and how often, to use DHTML hotspots (expanders).

      When is it best to use them? Can you overuse them, that is, should they be used sparingly? Should you use them for text only, or graphics? When designing online help, how do they help or hinder usability? I can see where they would keep the topic short (meaning that the user won't have to scroll through the topic) but then do we want to force users to click links constantly to view text or graphics? Where can you find guidelines for this kind of thing?

       

      Thanks!

      Lea Galanter

        • 1. Re: Hotspot Usability Guidelines and Questions
          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional

          People only remember so much so in a set of instructions, keep it to the minimum. The oft quoted example at presentations on this subject is where most users will understand a certain term but you know some will not. Put the extra information for novices into a dropdown. That way they do not clutter things for the experienced person who needs the help for some detail but the information is available for those who need it.

           

          As to what is in them, whatever works best. Screenshots are fine, often dropdowns are used to include a screenshot so that the minimal text is in the topic but the screenshot is available for those who need it. "Show me the screen"

           

          From another forum, "As little as possible, as much as necessary."

           

          If you are using dropdowns, you might want to consider a single button to expand / contract all of them. That overcomes the point you raise of clicking each one and also means the information is there if the user wants to print a topic. How to do that is covered on my site.

           

          http://www.grainge.org/pages/authoring/twisty/twisty.htm

           


          See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

           

          @petergrainge

          • 2. Re: Hotspot Usability Guidelines and Questions
            leagal99 Level 1

            Thanks, Peter! I'll pass on this information to my team.

             

            On an unrelated note, perhaps you can help me with something else? I've created  style guide, which I publish in .chm format. I recently found out you can add a Favorites tab (great for writers to save links to important entries). However, I can't find information about how to maintain/import those Favorites when a new version of the .chm file is distributed (like when you upgrade Internet Explorer, it brings in all your old Favorites). Should I be publishing to another format, such as WebHelp or Adobe Air instead?

             

            Thanks!

             

            Lead Technical Editor and Writer

            206-689-4438 (direct)

            206-617-9717 (mobile)

            lea.galanter@fticonsulting.com

            • 3. Re: Hotspot Usability Guidelines and Questions
              Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional

              As I understand it CHM Favourites a user has created remain as long as they are on the same computer and the CHM filename does not change.

               

              AIR would allow you to add links when you create the help and the user can add to them.

               


              See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

               

              @petergrainge

              • 4. Re: Hotspot Usability Guidelines and Questions
                leagal99 Level 1

                Once again, thanks for this information!

                 

                Lea Galanter

                Lead Technical Editor & Writer

                FTI Technology

                lea.galanter@fticonsulting.com

                www.ftitechnology.com

                206-689-4438 (o)

                206-617-9717 (m)