Friday, February 16, 2007

google v. help

[I've since found that Jeff Atwood already did a much better article on this. Go read it instead.]

When's the last time you tried to find something in an application's help system?

Being typical, I rarely seek help (or driving directions). When I do get stymied enough to venture into an application's help system, I inevitably end up more stymied, plus pissed off. It's rare that I actually find a useful answer.

Typing the application name plus my question into Google search seems to have a much better win/loss record.

Bonus question: what does this mean for help in your application? Should you skip the perfunctory lame attempt at a CHM file and just let the user Google your forum? Or should you try to come up with a help system that actually works?

4 comments:

Jeff Atwood said...

Indeed.

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000500.html

Jim Martin said...

Thanks, Jeff, you explained it better than I did. As usual, I'm about a year behind the times...

Hendrek said...

Just make your help system a browser control that automatically sends the search terms to Google.

Anonymous said...

Visual Studio has excellent documentations in MSDN
considering I don't have a internet connection at home I find
google useless there. Lispworks doc is also great.
The question is they you shouldn't just write some reference , rather
put some tutorials in.
Products that come without documentation are just demo crup
even experts need to learn from somewhere, if you don't make any docs development team is the only source, beside trial and error.

cheers
bobi