Help and Visual Flow

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Required Readings

Timothy Smith 20:12:17 3/19/2017

This was very interesting to read, as it's quite remarkable how in-depth and thorough the process of developing a help mechanism was in this case. We learned of research methods like this in lecture, and to see it applied by such a great company is cool. It's hard to believe how long it took for Apple to perfect a seemingly straightforward aspect of their operating system. I also believe some of the design goals can be effectively applied to other problems as well.

Chad Pongratz 14:29:23 3/20/2017

Personally, this was a more interesting read for me on a non too interesting topic in that help options aren't exciting but rarely ever do you read about the evolution of online help. Key points the article made were to make help discoverable, easy to author, and have a central access point. It's important to take advantage of the internet, write minimally, automate tasks whenever possible, and to define tasks broadly. Through using a detailed approach to designing the help options Mac OS showed increased rates of help completion proving it to be a success.

Chad Pongratz 14:29:26 3/20/2017

Personally, this was a more interesting read for me on a non too interesting topic in that help options aren't exciting but rarely ever do you read about the evolution of online help. Key points the article made were to make help discoverable, easy to author, and have a central access point. It's important to take advantage of the internet, write minimally, automate tasks whenever possible, and to define tasks broadly. Through using a detailed approach to designing the help options Mac OS showed increased rates of help completion proving it to be a success.

Jason Tucker 10:20:20 3/21/2017

This reading is about designing mac os's help menu. I thought it was an interesting reading. I tend to avoid help menus, so it is not something I have thought much about, but a well designed help menu can be very useful, especially for the those who are less technologically savy.

Vivien Chang 17:36:27 3/21/2017

This reading was about the creation of online help for Mac OS. There were 7 design goals that the article discussed: making help easy to discover, making help easy to author, providing a central point of access to all available help, taking advantage of the Internet, defining tasks broadly, writing minimally, and automating tasks when possible. I think all of these goals will help my group create a good help system with our mobile application.

Jonathan Hanobik 17:46:29 3/21/2017

This lecture's reading was really informative and provided a showcase to how Apple was able to transform their help application into something that would benefit and help their users. Originally, it seemed as if Apple was trying to design something from the question point of view. Although this seemed like a good, relatable idea for the users to interface with, it turned out to be less than helpful. I think that showing a variety of design rules, as the article did, really helped to convey the idea that the article was trying to prove. I will attempt to keep this in mind as I am designing applications, because it's apparent that these rules worked for Apple (increased rates of completion). Although I have never used the Apple Help feature, I understand now the process that it underwent in order to address users' concerns with ease and information.

Michael Zheng 18:09:34 3/21/2017

While reading this article, I saw a dichotomy between having in depth content and being able to access content more quickly. Since having more in depth content means giving the system more information to sort through. Also, it's very difficult to find the balance between a minimalist approach and step by step guide, since some people might be more intuitive than others.It's interesting to see how people are willing to sacrifice learning in the interest of fast and successful task completion.

Ariella Hanna 18:13:51 3/22/2017

This reading did a really good job of showing the process of designing a help guide for users. It took multiple tries to get it right and the designers had to adapt to technology. Even now, Apple has adapted and uses online forums to have a more expansive help guide. It's important to try and understand how users ask for help to make it intuitive for them to find help.

Jacob Guttenplan 20:59:50 3/22/2017

This reading primarily focused on making sure that user interfaces are intuitive. And even if the interface is confusing, ensuring that even finding the help menu and using the help interface to assist users when they cannot find the function that they are looking for. Having a help section in a large application is crucial to ensuring that the users know how to find the functions they are looking for.

Jason Ly 22:42:40 3/22/2017

The reading went over the design process of Apple guide/help. The methods used in usability testing and market research is similar to experiments and task analysis that we conducted for our group project. All the design goals could be applied to other features other than help. I liked the use of coachmarks to help describe features, it applies the extra information in the help menu directly to the screen or window that the user is focusing on or needs help with. This reading will provide a lot of insight and aid in potential design choices for our group project. We tried to implement a help feature but it didn't seem to assist our participants too much due to not being visible and lacking information.

Michael Smith 0:48:40 3/23/2017

I have never used the help guide on a Macintosh but it seems more intuitive than other helps guides I've used before. I wonder whether other companies have done such intensive research on designing an effective help guide for their users.

Raj Patel 0:50:31 3/23/2017

This reading was very informative. It explained the fundamentals of designing Apple's help system. I appreciate the emphasis take care in encouraging the writers to write about only those aspects of the task that users were unlikely to figure out through exploratory learning.

Gabriel Larson 7:38:33 3/23/2017

when they were talking about the design of apple help, I found it funny that users would click on pictures of the application thinking it were the real thing. I would think that having a screenshot of the application and showing you what to do would be the best idea but I guess you cant expect everyone to understand that. though I do understand the issue of finding the help button sometimes, even in some of the applications that are very complicated and help is often needed. I definitely think that its important to make the help icon or menu very easily findable. later on, it talks about how the designers of tasks were encouraged to only write about functions that users would not come across through exploratory learning. this I think Is a poor idea just cause it assumes a level of curiosity of the application that I don't think is always there. some users will see an app open and just sit there because they don't know how to use it. I've done it before and I'm in computer science lol

Spencer Cousino 8:18:05 3/23/2017

I found today's reading to be an interesting historical journey. Learning how applications, like Apple Guide, have evolved helps us understand how to do the same with our own applications. I was also pleasantly surprised to read how Apple moved towards adopting the HTML standard for help, rather than forcing their own proprietary system on everyone.

Ben Kristofic 8:25:41 3/23/2017

This reading was an interesting journey into how the Apple Help interface changed over the years, and how the developers took what they learned and then applied it to their design. IT was neat to learn that they used Usability testing to figured out how well their design was working - but then made the adjustments to provide a better product. I can see how this is an important concept to learn and utilize in today's app development world.

Sakae Nakahara 8:48:28 3/23/2017

As I read this week's reading, I couldn't help but be reminded of my own experiences in seeking guidance on how to do a particular task. And I found it strange that the primary issue at first was that people didn't like being "spoon fed" instructions. I remember my first time accessing the help menu resulted in me giving up because of an overload of information. It broadly described information related to the topic but didn't answer my specific question regarding the topic. Looking at the provided example, I think a substantial part of the problem was that there weren't many options to choose from and each option is labeled with an appropriate amount of description, meaning it was unlikely someone would perform the task incorrectly. And even if they did, they now have it committed to memory that the procedure was incorrect and they should have chosen a different option at the point they were unsure of. This brute force method of exploration should be sufficient for most of the simpler tasks that can have broad but often extraneous information. For more complicated tasks or tasks that can yield disastarous results if done incorrectly through exploration, clear, concise, step by step instructions, along with a short description of what a specific step does should be preferred. That way, users can process as minimal information as required to still perform the task, while the short description allows users who can process a litte more information to ponder different possibilities. Programming a specific task, in particular, should have step-by-step instructions because the user input is now typing a specific sequence of text from among an infinte number of possibilities, instead of clicking among a finite number of options. Even with IDE that can highlight clear compilation errors, thus pruning many of the infinite possible sequences, exploratory learning will usually result in more error, more time spent, and more frustration than processing a set of instructions.

Colin Schultz 9:00:51 3/23/2017

It was really interesting reading about how mac OS was worked on. It's something I use daily, so having that insight was nice.

Nick Miller 9:47:55 3/23/2017

In today's reading, it talked about apple's new approach which lead to a high rate of task completion in usability studies. The most interesting approach I though was when talking about providing a central point of access for all available help, this concept is interesting in that it is not something you would expect to help task completion but it was a major update that did.

Chevaughn Berry 12:59:29 3/23/2017


Zhenya Lindsay 13:02:01 3/23/2017

Help menu is very important to be designed properly since it can save the user in really bad situations. This text helped me to learn about help menu designs based on Apple implementation

Emily Hanna 13:03:41 3/23/2017

This weeks reading was about the designing of apple's help guide. The main focus of the design was about trouble-shooting and this new design improved task completion.

Damani Brown 13:10:43 3/23/2017

The article discusses different thing that you can do in order to improve the system and make it more usable. Apple also provides fail safes in case any of their system modifications dont work, for example task automation, or step by step guidance.

Anthony Tummillo 13:18:09 3/23/2017

I found this reading interesting, although a little dated. In my experience I am used to turning to the internet (mainly Google searches) whenever I need guidance/help using a piece of software correctly. To see all the effort that has gone into help screens on Mac was a little surprising as I am not used to really using the help option on nearly all software. I rarely don't succeed in completing tasks after consulting Google search results, so only very infrequently do I have to resort to using the help tab. Also it should be noted that a lot of Google searches take you to the same links as the help tab would have anyway.

Christen Reinbeck 13:19:44 3/23/2017

    • I resubmitted this when I checked and didn't see my name present during class.** I think the overall problem was an interesting one - having the difficulty of reading through a help document while also completing the task. Making the help files easy to edit from the point of view of the programmer is a very valid concern as if it isn't easy/convenient, then people won't want to use it. Also, seeing that some tasks never required a user to access the help for it was surprising, so they edited their format of the help page as a result. Making it discoverable is something that I found difficult during my project so I liked seeing their fix to it.

John Ha 14:42:50 3/23/2017

The article was about making the help section for customers more useful and intuitive. It talked about making the design easy to find, making the information short and concise, and expanding the amount of answers by using various options like online searching.