- By Michele Marques, Lead Information Developer, ITSM
How do you help users find the information they need? Even when you write the perfect information, it's not helpful if the customers don't know where to find it. I've seen people look in the wrong help system or in the wrong guide. On the other extreme, they search the entire website and find hundreds of pages, and don't know where to start.
In David Farbey's Mind the Gap post, he wrote: "Your reader doesn’t really have the patience to go through a series of options to find their answer, they want the explanation for their question right away."
Sometimes context-sensitive help can bring the user to the right page with one click. But not all users have the same questions, so that single click might not lead to the right place. How do you lead people from that first page to the right information in the minimal number of clicks?
If you have a doc set with multiple deliverables (help systems, guides, other documents), you might try to directo someone to another document deliverable.
If your entire doc set is in one space, like a wiki, you can link anywhere, and customers can search across the entire space.
How do you persuade the user to keep searching for the answer?
According to Jacob Nielson, it's the scent of information that persuades people to keep following the trail. As long as each link seems to take them closer to the desired goal, they'll keep going. The article is about preventing people from searching elsewhere. But if you control search (it's a search of your wiki, for example), maybe the most important part is that the user doesn't invest too much time in a false trail and give up.
The postings in this blog are my own and don't nessarily represent BMC's opinion or position.