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Is the Help Helpful? How to Create Online Help That Meets Your Users' Needs Paperback – November 28, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-1930919600 ISBN-10: 1930919603

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Hentzenwerke Publishing (November 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930919603
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930919600
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,490,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jean Hollis Weber is a technical publications consultant and has worked for numerous organizations including the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), IBM Australia, and Lexmark International Australia. She is active in the Society for Technical Communication (STC), and her web site, The Technical Editors' Eyrie (jeanweber.com), won a Merit Award in the STC-Australia online communication competition in 2002.

More About the Author

I have over 30 years of experience as a technical editor and writer. In 2003, after retiring from the paid workforce, I became involved with the OpenOffice.org community in the role of "lead editor" for a group of volunteers called OOoAuthors, who are writing user guides for OpenOffice.org. I am now Co-lead of the Documentation Project at OpenOffice.org. I am also active in the Friends of OpenDocument Inc., which publishes printed versions of the OpenOffice.org user guides.

In the past I was active in the Australia Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication and the Australian Society for Technical Communication. I have won several awards for my books and editors' website.

I maintain several websites and blogs: JeanWeber.com for technical editors, Avalook.com for travellers to Australia, Taming-Openoffice-org.com for users of OpenOffice.org, FriendsofOpenDocument.com, and jeanweber.blogspot.com for miscellaneous interests.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book brings together many aspects of writing technical documentation, with the specific focus of writing online help. It's like "Managing Your Documentation Projects" (Hackos, 1994), but for online help projects, without assuming a large doc department or heavy-weight processes. The first chapter summarizes the help development process as an introduction to planning a project, including the benefits and pitfalls of each step. The later chapters each focus on a specific phase, task, or issue in the process. I'm perplexed by the complaints of "Unhappy Buyer" about the task-oriented headings and bullet points in "Is the Help Helpful?", as I found those to be among the most helpful features of this book.

The book does not assume you are using any particular help technology or help authoring tools (though these are summarized in an appendix). So, for example, while Chapter 6 covers issues in producing a table of contents and index, you may need to refer to other sources for instructions in how to implement them with the specific technology and tool you are using.

Many of the topics covered in this book are addressed in greater depth in other books; an appendix offers a list of references for further reading. To really understand all these issues, you would need to read several books. However, you could read all those other books, and still not get the focus on online help offered by this one.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ian R. on September 24, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In addition to this book, I also bought "Standards for Online Communication," (SFOC) by J. Hackos & D. Stevens. As of this writing, I've read much of both books. Is the Help Helpful? seems to have taken it's material from SFOC. SFOC is more thorough and therefore easier (for me) to understand. If you are creating online help, go with SFOC.
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By Aziz on September 24, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good product.
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10 of 19 people found the following review helpful By sanka on May 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
I think the author was trying to be funny when she wrote this supposed 'book.' I am a novice when it comes to authoring help systems, and as I read through this book I could not figure out why I wasn't understanding much. After much consideration, I realized that the headings in this book are resembling headings for a help system, in that they are mostly gerunds. This wouldn't be such a problem if beneath the headings, the author would actually have written paragraphs explaining the material. Instead, most of the content in the book is bulleted--as if they were steps you'd follow in a procedure!! To say the least, this book is disjointed. It is not for people seeking to learn about writing help systems.
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