How to get users to read/view the Help section

I've created a resource center for users of our product, full of tutorials and exercises.  I have a series of Help slides that launches the first time they visit the site, and is available in the menu at any time.  I've included a link to download a PDF of the slides if they don't want to watch the videos.

No one is looking at Help!  They complain that they don't understand the center, or they miss sections of it entirely, and every complainer says they skipped Help.  I've tried to make the site as intuitive as possible, but there's still some explanation needed.  How can I get this information to users, without being annoying and forcing them through the slides?  Or, how have you all made Help sections that were appealing enough to get users voluntarily visiting them?  Any advice welcome!

7 Replies
Phil Mayor

Sounds more like you have navigation issues rather than needing them to readthe help section.

If you offer a help and they skip it, the navigation should be intuitive so they do not/cannot miss important information.

Perhaps simplifying the navigation structure would be better than forcing users to read the help section, look at iOS devices they are designed to be used with out needing a handbook this is the simplicity that I strive for.

Minh-Triet Nguyen

If you want to follow a mobile app trend in help, maybe create "overlays" that sit on top of the app screens and point to functions.  You can put different overlays on different screens so people only see the help that relevant to that screen.  For example, check out these overlays for the mobile image editor, Snapseed:

Rebecca Shamblin

Phil, I know, I've been trying to simplify navigation as much as I can, but clearly I haven't cracked it yet.  Unfortunately, none of the users have been able to give much feedback about WHAT is confusing, or where specifically they get lost.  I'll keep plugging away at it.

Kate, the help center is about how to use the course itself (here's where the tutorials are, here's where you can find a glossary, here's how you can jump between demos, etc.).

Minh-Triet, that's an interesting thought.  I could set up visited/not visited variables to the overlays only show up the first time.  People might be more likely to read the info if it's not all put together at once.  Do you think there's any reason someone would not choose 'resume last session' when opening the center?  That's one concern I already have, that those people are having to skip the Help lightbox twice.  Spreading out the help screens would make that problem worse.

Kate Hoelscher

There are certain things I do and don't do depending on my audience.  I have found some of my learners struggle with drag and drop, select multiple, etc.  I try to be very clear in my instructions on each slide they have to do something.  I also use arrows to point at things that they have to do beyond 'next'.  For example, on a lightbox slide, an arrow to point at the x in the upper right corner--I know it's obvious to me but have found learners get 'stuck' and don't know what to do.  On questions, I put in italics what they should do--select all correct answers then submit, etc.  A button isn't always obviously a button to the learners, so I try to use consistent colors on all mandatory buttons (next, etc.) and a complimentary/similar color for non-mandatory buttons that they can click.