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Read my mind: What users want from online information

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1 Author(s)
Ridgeway, L.S. ; IBM, Kingston, NY, USA

The author explores why computer users often do not use the HELP function offered by many programs. Three explanations are frequently offered for not using HELP: Asking for help: may break the user's flow of thought; disorients the user as far as navigation from screen to screen is concerned: and often does not provide the answer the user needs. Experience suggests that people have a low tolerance for unhelpful help, and that their initial expectations are quickly revised downward. What people think they want, what people expect, and implications of why users want context-dependent help are discussed. A conversational model for help is suggested. The application of a social, conversational model to human-computer interaction accounts for several phenomena that have been observed: people react badly to poor response time, people also react badly to very quick response time, and people react emotionally to programs.

Published in:

Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:PC-30 ,  Issue: 2 )