I strongly believe that most context sensitive help solutions around today are lacking in context, which would be funny if it wasn’t so annoying.
We see various definitions out there in the public domain like…Context-sensitive Help provides information about the user interface of an application relative to the task a user performs. Which completely ignores the user’s real context, as it seems to mean that the only context is where the user is in the app!
Wikipedia states: “Context-sensitive is an adjective meaning “depending on context” or “depending on circumstances”. It may refer to: Context-sensitive grammar. Context-sensitive language. Context-sensitive help.” Which covers a lot more scenarios closer to the real world.
So when we think about all of the above variations…to get true context sensitive help we really need to consider the following:
- Who is the person and what is their Role?
- How experienced are they?
- How do they like to digest information (Video, text, be shown something or listen for example)
- What is their preferred language?
- What area of the application are they currently in?
- We need to know where they need help and the data from the current record they are looking at should also provide context.
- What content they are engaging with and if it was useful!
- Is the person happy? Did they get what they needed, when they needed it?
All of these questions relate to the user as the focus of context, the context in this case being the user’s experience, preferences, learning style, their actions, their history, their behaviour and any issues they may be having.
So without this depth of knowledge, context sensitive help that only addresses some of these elements or provides just field or application level help are barely any use and offer very limited value to your business or your users.
It needs to go way above this to get things right…