Reading Usable Help
@UsableHelp on Twitter
Gordon R. Meyer
Help that illuminates
Many instructional designers struggle with how to include so-called conceptual, or background information, within their procedural documentation. If there's too much of it, readers might be distracted or confused. If it's omitted entirely, readers might be disorientated or advanced users might feel the documentation is simplistic.
For one perspective on this, see Drawing Conclusions | Jettison Canopy. The article is a lengthy comparison of illustration programs for the Mac, but towards the end (just before "Tonight's Verdict") Jon Whipple, the author, compares the products' help systems and offers some insight into what he considers to be the most usable help.