Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
Moving readers forward
Gerry McGovern's article on website navigation contains good advice for help authors, too. It's not always wise to apply website "rules" to Help--the reader's motivation differ in important ways--but in this case there is much to learn.
For example, McGovern writes about how complexity in navigation leads to confusion and poor decision making. Good navigation is not about giving your readers lots and lots of choices, its about helping them make choices that move them towards the information that they are seeking. Giving them the opportunity to branch to anywhere and everywhere, or as McGovern points out, providing a history that pulls them backwards, diverts too much attention away from the goal