11. user support


What are the four main types of help that users may require? For each type, give an example of a situation in which it would be appropriate.

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The four main types:

  • quick reference
  • task-specific help
  • full explanation
  • tutorial

Quick reference is used primarily to remind the user of details of tools he is familiar with and has used before. For example, to find a particular command option, or to check the syntax of the command.
Task-specific help is required when the user has encountered a problem with a particular task or is uncertain how to apply the tool to his particular problem. Help offered is directly related to the task. Example would be the application 'wizards' that guide you step by step through a common task such as mail merge.
Explanation: More experienced or inquisitive users may want a full explanation of a tool or command to enable fuller understanding. Explanation will probably include more information than needed.
Tutorial help is particularly aimed at new users of a tool and provides step-by-step instruction (perhaps by working through examples) of how to use the tool.

Each of these types of user support is complementary - the same user may require each at different times. Interested students may like to investigate 'just in time training' in which training is supplied when it is needed - a sort of mixing of task-specific and tutorial help.

Other exercises in this chapter

ex.11.1 (ans), ex.11.2 (ans), ex.11.3 (ans), ex.11.4 (ans), ex.11.5 (tut), ex.11.6 (tut), ex.11.7 (tut), ex.11.8 (tut), ex.11.9 (tut), ex.11.10 (tut)

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