Sep 01

Creating Graphical Help Files to Assist Your ActiveDen Customers

Thu, 09/01/2011 - 09:18 — julie
Click for larger image

Hello fellow blog readers! Aw_Shucks here to share some tips on how to create and design help files in a different and useful way.

Most of you know will know me from the ActiveDen forums, where I spend at least 15 hours of the day waiting for new posts to appear on the forums. ;-) But today I am here to share something useful with the ActiveDen community.

[This post originally appeared on the ActiveDen blog in 2009.]

Visual Help Files

If you’ll look at the diagram above I colored-up for you, you can get an idea about how I do it. The point of it all is to make it simpler for you, the ever-so-hard-working author, to get your “help” information across to the customer in an easy to understand manner.

Keep It Simple

The point is to keep it simple. This is something I have learned from many different people pounding that idea into my head since I started uploading to ActiveDen. But it wasn’t until recently that I found an effective way of applying that advice to my help files.

Here’s how I keep it simple: I begin by creating my help file in Photoshop. Designing my help files entirely in Photoshop makes it so much less tedious than written documentation, and actually, more fun to make them. And, believe it or not, it saves a lot of time. It takes approximately half the time to design help files completely in Photoshop than it does to manually write out the code, syntax and text of an HTML help file. At least for me anyway. Photoshop (CS3) provides a way for the user to easily and quickly create slices on an image, and then save the sliced image as a readily working HTML framework that can be opened in any browser as a regular functioning HTML page.

When designing a help file in Photoshop, a good point to remember is to let the diagram speak for itself. And what information the user might not understand by just looking at the pictures, can be clearly written-out in a short, but concise description.

I am aware that some, or even most of you, are well versed in the art of Photoshopping, but keep in mind that I designed this tutorial for those who might benefit from a crystal clear and easy-to-follow example. I hope this tip and tutorial will be of use to you and save some valuable time!

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