Sometimes, users of your product are going to get stuck.

Whether they’re a new user, there’s a feature they’ve not used yet, or the user simply doesn’t know where to start, it’s important that they can get help when they need it.

Providing help docs is a good first step, but they’re only useful if users can find what they need. Providing a hierarchy of topics that you can walk through as well as a search function will help in the majority of cases.

Beyond help docs, there’s a better way to surface these to users than relying on a dedicated Help page: contextual help.

What is contextual help?

Contextual help is about showing information and links to guides within the product itself. This can be done using tooltips, popups, dialog boxes, and side panels.

Depending on the page or feature you’re currently on, you’ll see different information that relates to what you’re currently doing.

For instance, if you’re creating a new quote, you could include links that explain each stage of the process. Users can go off and read the whole thing if they want, but they can also make a start and only jump into the guides that they need.

How can contextual help benefit users?

Contextual help can be really useful for users who have recently completed some training – they probably don’t want to go through the entire training guide again. Having contextual help allows users to get help when they need it.

Additionally, contextual help can break down long or complex processes into more manageable chunks. This can help the product to feel less daunting to use.

Helping support teams

By using contextual help in your product, users are more likely to find the information they need within the product. This should mean fewer users need to consult the help pages, or send in a support request.

Minimising requests that are answered in the help guides saves time both for users and for your support team.

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