Help File Creation Checklist
After you have created a help file (for example, using the instructions available here) for your application, you can use the following checklist to ensure your work meets the quality standards, and, mainly, that your help file will be useful to the end-user of the product.
In many cases, after reading these help authoring tips, you will probably want to revise your help file in order to add the appropriate changes.
1.) Help File Structure
The structure of the help file should be organized the way when most important chapters and topics are shown before other less important items. Thus, the user will be able to easily find an answer to the most frequent questions or issues they may experience.
A checklist to control the quality of your help file
2.) Help File Content
The content of the help file should also describe what the user will probably want to see. For example, it is better to provide a step-by-step instruction explaining how to achieve something, rather than a long description of a product's feature.
3.) Topic Content Structure
The structure of content in each help topic should also be clear, which means that you should use titles and sub-titles avoiding mixing up all the information.
4.) Terminology within a Help File
For the help file, it is also important to explain features and operations with a consistent set of terms used within the described product.
5.) Images and Screenshots
To make your help file more helpful, you can prepare screenshots or even create a video clip to explain a subject. This will make it easier for non-experienced users to understand a product's feature, or to resolve an issue.
6.) Context-sensitive Help
You should integrate the help file with your application. It is also important for a user to be able to quickly open a corresponding help topic directly from the place where the problem is faced.
7.) Keyword Index
Similarly to the Table of Contents that represents the help file's structure, you should prepare a keyword Index to make it possible for the end user to easily find a subject or term. When associating topics with keywords, you should add similar keywords or synonyms which the user of the help file may enter to find an answer to a question.
8.) Help File Appearance
You should create a professional style for your help file or document. The best variant would be creating an appearance that will correspond to your company or product common style. However, you can also use a ready-to-use design template included into your help authoring tool.
Download a Help Authoring Tool
If you a looking for a suitable tool to create your help file, you can view the Choosing a Help Authoring Tool section for the list of features that you may need to complete a particular project.
Also you can download one of the recommendable help authoring tools which includes support for multiple help formats, an easy-to-use UI, and advanced features such as conditional text.