Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
Applying the five W's to Help
At first glance, it should be very easy to create documentation. Just figure out how to do something, then write down each step in order. Number 'em from 1 to whatever, make sure you don't skip any clicks or keystrokes, then call it a day.
But this can result in instructions that are technically correct, yet still be miss the mark. That is, does a long, enumerated list of steps really provide for what users need or want to know? You can help yourself find out by reading Geoff Hart's article, "The Five W's of Online Help." The old journalism standard of "Who, What, When, Where, and Why" applied to documentation design will help you develop more useful oncreen Help.