When Help files are NOT helpful!

Discussion in 'Computers' started by MarkHastings, Jun 17, 2006.

  1. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    Why does it seem like I am ALWAYS running into this issue?

    Example, I am streamlining my system and I notice an Adobe Reader icon in my Startup folder. I assume this is an intializer that (once launched) helps Adobe Reader launch much quicker.

    The item is called "Adobe Reader Speed Launch"...

    So I go to Adobe's support pages and search for "Speed Launch" in Adobe Reader's support section. SURPRISE! "No Results" [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I seem to run into this exact same thing a LOT! This happens a lot with Microsoft. They'll have a menu item, yet there is NO explaination of it ANYWHERE! You do a search for the exact name of the menu item and you don't get any results.

    Why do companies have these giant databases of support, yet when I go to search for something specific "That was installed or is part of the application" - they have NO info on it????

    Ugh, ok, rant over. [​IMG]
     
  2. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    My theory is that the people responsible for software are illiterate.

    They are experienced, and intuitive, which works for a lot of folks, but verbal skills and linear logic are not a big part of their world.

    I am just starting on XP and see that menu layout, Dialog Box design and questions, and so on, had not improved at all over Windows 98.

    I'm glad Bill is retiring. Maybe there is hope in that.
     
  3. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    It's not that simple.

    Good interface design is fairly rare across the board. It's not intuitive for most people, and requires work and study. But the root cause for what Mark is complaining about is plain old time and resources.

    How many sales are lost because a help topic is missing? Apparently not many. Better yet: how many sales could you gain with excellent help? Answer: not many.

    Would customers be more satisfied with better help? Absolutely, but the sad fact is that it doesn't matter enough. Writing help takes time. Being thorough takes time. Releasing on time and before your competitors is far more important.

    So you end up with a large customer base of vaguely dissatisfied people. But at least you have that base. And you can maybe entice them with more features in the next feature. All you really need is one good one, which could be different for different people. You also have the inertia of invested time and effort, which makes people less likely to switch. Maybe they'll skip a version, but you could get them on the next one. In any case, "really good help" is rarely a deciding factor.
     
  4. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    My gripe is, if it's installed on my computer, there better be documentation on it.
     
  5. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Actually, I agree with you Ken, that this crap is rushed to market and is not well designed or well done.

    The fact that this unproductive software is tolerated by the ignorant public that is sucked into computers explains the decline in quality and satisfaction I experience in our economy.

    The vast majority of computers are put to the most trivial of uses, and in many cases sit unused in homes, because they are so clumsy and over-burdened with bloat, that they become futzed up.

    Right now, I'm facing a newer version of Word Perfect, and not being able to find on its Help Directory how to set the default 'Save to' directory. I can't believe it [​IMG]
     
  6. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    ken is totally right. they don't create better help sections because they will have the user base whether they do it or not. help is almost a non-issue.

    CJ
     
  7. Rommel_L

    Rommel_L Second Unit

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    And that people, is why google is your friend...
     
  8. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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  9. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    ThomasC, I forget what it was (it was over a year ago) but I was trying to figure out a menu item in Microsoft PowerPoint....I went through the help, online support/kowledgebase, etc. - I even had our IT staff trying to find it - NOTHING!!!! There was NO freakin documentation on it and I had no idea how it worked.That's it right there. Support staff are so inundated with having to answer questions like "How do I print" or "How do I burn to a CD", that they don't have time for the REAL support.

    Like with that Reader "Quick Start" - Most people don't even know it's in their startup items, so there's no need for Adobe to write support on it. [​IMG]

    I've always said that they you should have to take an online test before gaining access to tech support. Hopefully they could sort out those who are incompetent and charge them through the nose for answering their dumb-ass questions.
     
  10. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    There are no stupid questions - just stupid answers!

    Mark, I went through the same thing as you did a few weeks ago, and yes, I ended up on the Internet, further clogging it with things that should be in the software mfgs' help section. It's bad enough that they don't issue meaningful manuals anymore.

    I'm keeping my MS DOS 6.2 Technical Referene manual.

    Glenn
     
  11. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    Well HOWDY-freakin-DOODY! I found the problem! [​IMG]

    In my startup items, there is a file called "Adobe Reader Speed Launch"...

    If you go to Adobe's 'Reader' knowledgebase and search for "Speed Launch", you get NO results....

    BUT! BUT BUT!!! IF you search for "Speed LAUNCHER" [​IMG] You get a result:
    http://www.adobe.com/support/techdocs/331131.html

    The only reason I started searching for "Speed Launcher" was because I searched the user forums for "Speed Launch" and someone referred to it as "Speed Launcher" so I thought I'd give that a try.


    OK, what have we learned here:

    A) If you're going to have support for an item, make sure it matches the same name as the item that is INSTALLED ON YOUR SYSTEM!!!
    and
    B) If I do a search for speed launch, why can't you give me a result for speed launcher?????

    Ugh, I'm spent!don't forget a disconnect between the ones who write the software and the ones who write the tech support. Do these people talk to each other or do they just guess???? [​IMG]
     
  12. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    No Mark - you know better than that. The tech support people speak one (or more) of those Indian dialects!

    Glenn
     
  13. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    LOL - Someone needs to come out with an "English->Indian->Tech Support" translation book. [​IMG]
     

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