Support » Alpha/Beta/RC » 3.3b Help visibility

  • Tom Auger


    I’m really digging the new, multi-tabbed Help system in 3.3. However, given that Help now really has the potential to be a pretty robust online documentation alternative, I’m feeling that the “help” menu item in the new Admin bar is simply not prominent enough.

    On the one hand, it’s in a fairly common location. The design pattern is definitely ubiquitous on Windows, Mac and Linux variants.

    On the other hand, I think its use case is different from the use case behind application-menu help in most common usages. Consider:

    – application-menu help is generally non-contextual. This actually makes sense, since an application menu is generally global, not contextual to the current view. In contrast, WP help IS contextual. It’s tied to the page you’re working with. Arguably the Admin bar in WP is contextual, but the design pattern paradigm users will have coming in is the Microsoft / Apple one, not the WP one…

    – application-menu help use cases are usually extremely specific: how do I do X? What’s the shortcut key for Y? It’s pretty targeted, specific and often relatively low-level. In contrast, WP Help is generally entry-level, contextual and expository: it encourages the user to further explore and take advantage of features on that page. It’s almost more tutorial than FAQ.

    Given these observations, I think the positioning and visual styling of the help should be such that it is more closely tied to the context and the specific page. I’d like to see it more prominent, possibly even somewhat obtrusive for new installs with an easy way to disable, minimize, or otherwise dismiss if you’re an advanced user or configurator.

    I’d like the role of the help to be an educational one, encouraging new users to take better advantage of this powerful platform. Right now it feels like it’s receding into the background of the Admin bar that (I fear) may actually find itself becoming more peripheral to the entry-level users. (I wonder whether @janeforshort has got any heatmaps of entry level users relating to the Admin bar…)

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