"Just get me what I'm looking for and get me 'outta here!"
It's ironic that a Help file is one of the last places some people look for an answer, yet it may provide the fastest answer. It's a lot easier to ask someone that knows or to call the Help Desk or attempt an alternative method. The fact is: nobody wants to spend any more time in your Help file than they have to. Therefore you should design you Help system to establish short online sessions with your users. The sessions should be long enough to locate the correct information within about 3 clicks of the mouse.
"Fast, functional, and targeted."
Get rid of the clutter. A well organized help file has a simple organizational structure that anybody can identify. It has consistency in appearance, writing style, fonts, and flow. Topics and links are in the expected place throughout. It looks professional and it lays a solid first impression.
Organization is the key to a successful Help system. Cross referencing topics in many places makes the information easier to find since nobody looks for information, or thinks, the same way. Don't let your users leave empty handed -- get them the correct information the first time.
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