Because SharePoint end users often are responsible for tasks completely unrelated to SharePoint, but need to successfully process computing tasks within a SharePoint work space, it makes sense to keep the presentation of technical training materials for them as simple, and as direct as possible. Few interactions could be more difficult than the effort a Tier I SharePoint support person might have to make to help a confused end user select the right training content from a page full of training assets. But this unpleasant experience can arise if SharePoint stakeholders inadvertently end up inundating end users with just too much training content.
We think a system like our VisualSP™ help system for SharePoint, provides the most useful method of exposing training content to SharePoint end users within the context of the SharePoint work space. VisualSP encloses all of the links to training content within a curated section of the SharePoint user experience. End users can access training content either from a tab in the SharePoint ribbon, or from a graphic box located directly on the SharePoint page. So end users can be directed to identify specific areas on the SharePoint page where all of the training content will be available to them.
With content curated around how various scopes work in SharePoint there is no need for a help system like ours to guess about what an end user needs to do on a page. Guessing about objectives was a big component of Microsoft’s “Clippy” in-context technical support system. But “Clippy” was not well received by Office users, and was eventually removed as an option. We think it’s better, as we mentioned above, to simply expose authoritative technical training content, with a demonstrated high level of utility when accessed on-demand.
If, in contrast, an in-context help system serves up technical content on each and very feature of a SharePoint scope, the risk of end user “information deluge” is great. SharePoint end users simply don’t have the time, or the interest to warrant an effort to provide them with technical information about each and every feature in a document library, or a list.
The most damage done by this latter type of in-context help system is to diminish end user enthusiasm for SharePoint computing, which ought to be at the very center of an adoption effort.
Ira Michael Blonder
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