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Sep 28

Cool help

by Harrison • September 28, 2007

Product Highlights & Updates

Whenever I try out a new application, I never read the Help section or the user manual. I dislike reading, and a text-only Help section doesn’t help. Moreover, most Help sections have too much information, and I can’t easily find the answer to my questions. Consumers like myself are lazy and demanding. We don’t want to spend too much time trying to figure out new things. If a new application doesn’t meet our expectations, we will simply leave, rather than investing a few minutes to learn how it works.

This creates a conflict between designers writing a comprehensive Help section and users not reading it. If the designer keeps instructions short, users don’t get it. If the designer writes out every detail, users don’t read it. At Spokeo we didn’t build in a Help section when we first launched because we thought no one would read it. Users complained that a site without Help is unprofessional. At last, we put up an extensive FAQ section. Unfortunately, no one reads it.

As you know, Spokeo’s design philosophy is utilitarian and minimalist. We don’t like to have buttons that no one uses, and for a long time, the unused Help button went against our philosophy. We couldn’t take it out, since everyone is just so used to seeing (but not using) that button. After several design meetings, I think we have come up a good compromise.

When you press Help in Spokeo, you’ll see a few Help balloons pop up. They point to features that you might not have noticed, and explain how these advanced features work. The ballons give you the information you need quickly and when you are looking for it, If you click on the main balloon in the top right corner, it will bring you to the traditional FAQ section. And of course, any time you have a question, you can press Feedback to talk to me (I, alone, am the customer service department). I generally reply within hours on weekdays.

So please try out the new Help. Hopefully you will find it to be more helpful now.

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