Monthly Archives: August 2013

Realbasic/Xojo: An implementation of a help system at One Two

helpsystem
‘Keep it simple’ is our motto at OneTwo. A key element in our thinking process is searching for a way a user can work with complicated software with little to no learning curve. ‘Work’ is the perfect example of this. Our starting point was a real life desktop, with real life folders and documents familiar to the user. At a glance you can see your projects, your employees and the work you’ve done. Installing the software is nothing more than copying a folder. Training of this kind of software takes in most cases a good part of the day (and please RTFM before you call our helpdesk!), but not with ‘Work’.

After a 30 minute training, not computer minded people happily are making rather complicated queries in their database only using pure everyday logic. ‘I want to know who worked yesterday at the Boston site and how long and what material have they used’ is as simple to do in ‘Work’ as dragging the site name from your project map to a WeekView and a familiar looking report will show you exactly what you want. Almost every object can interact with each other and answer everyday questions. The first look on the clients faces when they create a ‘query’ only the ‘IT-Guru-In-The-Cellar’ could do previously makes it all worth.

But software is software. How do you know what you can do with it? That is why even we need a 30 minute training. Not to teach the business logic of the software, but simply explaining to people to use common sense. ‘Don’t think like a computer, think how you would do it in real life’. Show the user what the software can do, with their own familiar data and make this info accessible at any time.

I created a short demonstration of what I mean in the next video (make sure you put it in 1080p mode to see more detail):

This kind of help system adapts itself to the user, and not the other way around. It uses the software and data to create a helpful answer for the non technical user. No need for 2 inch thick manuals, long distance calls to a helpdesk or frustrating searches through IT-logical menus. We have thousands of clients using our software every day and hardly any phone call to our ‘helpdesk’.

Take your time to think about a help system. No mather how intuitive your software is, at some point someone will need help. Make this learning experience as easy as you can. You will also benefit from it, believe me!


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