When you are designing your RoboHelp paragraph styles, take time to ensure you think about how you will use them. Why? I can answer that question in one word. Productivity. Think about styles this way. By all means think about how your styles control the look and feel of your text, after all you crafted them, but what follows a style? Right. Another style. So wouldn’t it be a good idea to dictate what they style will be?
“It had better not smell of Windows in any way.” I eavesdropped a conversation about an application’s interface when this sentence was uttered. The premise was a large potential almost exclusively Mac based client. Any user interface that looked even remotely like Windows would be dismissed faster than you could say “A fatal exception has occurred”. That’s not a problem though. It just means the Product Manager has to steer the application’s development in a direction that allows it to meet the demands of customers with either a Windows and Mac preference. It is as simple as that though?
As someone in the middle of restructuring our main help file, I am doing a lot of thinking. This is required because of changes in the application, the way the product is being sold and the fact that it has been three years since we last did it. A lot of content has been added since then and the help file structure is creaking at the seams. Mostly I am looking at the existing help, deciding where a topic fits best (if it fits at all) and creating a TOC complete with blank topics. Having created over 1100 topics to date I’ve been doing a lot of typing. Thankfully RoboHelp keyboard shortcuts make things that little bit easier.
A lot has been written about the “lack” of Apple product documentation. The iPad was been released without a manual of any kind. The argument used by many is that the product is so intuitive that it doesn’t need any. But is that true? Many think so, but perhaps the large market in magazines, books, blogs and websites devoted to tips and tricks suggests otherwise. A recent Twitter stream started at this year’s Technical Communication UK Conference centerd on this debate. The example of the iPad was used to see if people saw it as an intuitive product. There is no doubt it is a beautifully designed product. Maybe it is easy to use as well, but does that make it intuitive?