Simplifying Help With A Floating Window
Software frameworks earn their keep by reducing development effort, but sometimes managing a simple click through their Byzantine paths complicate simple things. Here’s what we did when all we wanted was to get a little help without losing our place in the workflow.
Clicking a browser button shouldn’t exercise myriad KLOCs, running through YUI and jQuery and their kin. Even more, forcing a page refresh or adding another tab can be more than irritating when trying to figure out even well designed browser based workflow applications. Adding context sensitive help in a floating window would be, well, really helpful, particularly when working with more than one monitor.
Here’s what we did with a recent PHP application to short circuit the round trips and reduce user irritation. Couldn’t use a ‘regular’ click, so we had to use a popup window to get the floating help page up quickly.
$html .= ‘<li><a href=”#” onclick=”displaytutorial();”>Help Tutorials</a></li>’;
Customer tells us it works quite well. Markedly reducing the number of support calls they get. Those who object to user initiated popups might get a better appreciation of the value of time by working in support for a while and experiencing, first hand, how regular paying customers value theirs.
© Copyright 2010 Chuck Brooks for FutureWare SCG