Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
So long, Clippy
What is the life span of an animated user assistant? Apparently, about 10 years. With the release of the new Microsoft Office 2007, the much-derided "Clippy the paperclip" has been euthanized. May Clippy rest in peace.
A decade is a long life for any Help technology, and Clippy's fate was certainly sealed long ago, but I don't celebrate its demise. The idea of offering Help in way that sheds the baggage of "books" and truly takes advantage of the onscreen computing environment is, in my opinion, rock-solid. I think where Clippy failed was its approach to proactive assistance. I've spoken with several people who enjoyed using Clippy to get answers to their questions, but no one who found its intrusive "You seem to need help" worthwhile. When users ask for Help, they want a good user experience. When they don't need Help, stay out of their way. That, I believe, will be the lasting legacy of Clippy.
Thanks to Endgadget for the news.