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HELP buttons linked to a “Help” Master Interface

First off, let me say that I know that with the current priorities this suggestion is unlikely but ... (I could not find any posts related to this subject on this site).

Suggestion: Include HELP buttons throughout the FT software that are linked to a “Help” Master Interface that acts as the central repository for ALL links to “help” related information (interactive and not just another PDF file). As upgrades to instructions and software become available the new information would be linked to the appropriate section of the User Manual which in turn would maintain their links to the Help buttons displayed in the software program. By religiously updating a central repository when new training tools come online the “Help” Master Interface would become a central “living” hub linking them all together and providing rapid access to relevant info. It would result in “one-stop shopping” for all related help information to a specific subject.

At all places that require inputs (i.e., data entry) or operations (e.g., moving around the chart display) by the user, a help button which is linked to the exact place where the specific subject is referenced in a “Help” Master Interface would greatly enhance the experience of using FT. The help buttons should be located EVERYWHERE (the name and birth windows, discussion, notes, and source windows, the change log window, the charts windows, the search record functions, etc., etc., etc.) and these Help buttons could be dated (HELP 13Jun2013 or HELP 26Feb2014) so that the user would know if they are accessing the most recent info or if the info has been recently updated (in case they need a refresher course or to check out new software changes); possibly even using color coding to highlight if new updates are less than a month old.

The “Help” Master Interface could also be a central link with ALL the other types of help instructions such as links to instructional videos, papers, research wiki articles, support, etc. that have to do with the particular Help area the user is requesting. It would sure beat trying to find the info on your own which is hard enough when you have the time to look for it but is downright depressing if you are stuck in the middle of problem when searching, entering, or modifying data.

Below is a rather noisy diagram giving a visual depiction of a “Help” Master Interface (HMI? – any other name suggestions?)
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  • Cathy Andregg or Christopher suggested something like this. Maybe not as colorfully as yours, but the same idea
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  • I’m thankful
    Excellent idea! As a Family History Support Missionary who acts as a 'Help Center, it seems your suggestion would cut down on patron frustration, and time spent solving their problems. I know the engineers work so hard to put all this together and I really appreciate their efforts. This is such a great idea I hope they can put it at the top of the list.
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  • We were working offline on a presentation for Ron that applies an "aggressive" verification approach for untrained users. Using something similar to the are you new technology the aggressiveness of the verification lessens. The idea is to teach users correct principles through the interface.

    I know they are working on a version of context sensitive help but it is quite some time in the future.

    In the mean time I have been trying to get buy-in to an my WIKI Family Idea
    Where you can "FIND" FAQ or WIKI people that give a contextual look at how something should be done.

    Take a look at this link
    https://beta.familysearch.org/tree/#v...

    I want to flesh it out a bit more and suggest moving it to the main tree with the records locked except to a WIKI admin group.
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  • The current suggestion is different from the Wiki Family idea but the more “help” that is available through multiple sources the better.

    Could the “central repository” (the Help master Interface) be contained within Wiki itself with the FT software only providing the actual HELP button and a link to a page (or pages) in Wiki that would be maintained by the users? This would mean that the users would be helping other users by filling in the various links in Wiki that lead to the best explanations of how to accomplish something (e.g., find a video course or paper that deals with the specific subject or giving tricks of the trade to do specific things like browser tweaks).

    This is not unlike what is happening at Getsatisfaction right now and this way the HELP information would be accessible to everyone at any time either through a “Help” button or by searching the Wiki subjects themselves. Getsatisfaction has a lot of great answers that show up in various discussions but finding one specific answer using the search function or trying to remember where you saw it can be a nightmare. It is not impossible that something like this could be started “now” and we would only have to request that FT eventually provide an access point (a Help button) within the program at those points where the most questions arise.

    I looked over the Research Wiki site and it stated: FamilySearch Wiki is not ... “A repository of knowledge regarding the use of FamilySearch products” so I guess the idea of it going there is out of the question. They also suggested that one could create their own “Wiki” if the subject does not fit under the subjects handled by Research Wiki. They suggested trying sites like Wikia, Wikidot, Wikispaces, or Wikispot; any comments about these sites or other alternatives to Research Wiki?
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  • I created the attached wiki article and no one has complained yethttps://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/e...

    But you are right there needs to be a way for the average user to find help. People call in, and some find the lessons, but I don't think it is enough
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  • Cynthia, if your article is okay then maybe this could work. Like your “Tools” article and the “Training” article linked from your page, this would be a similar theme. Maybe the “repository of knowledge” means that all knowledge about a product should not be displayed within the one WIKI article (i.e., do not create a User's Manual) whereas the only knowledge I want to include is the knowledge of where to find the knowledge (splitting hairs?).

    I’m still trying to figure out what is involved with creating a WIKI article, the best way to accomplish this overall task, and how to structure the WIKI pages to be the most effective but I have not given up yet.
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  • If and when a WIKI page is initiated to tackle this issue, my two primary questions are:

    First, how does one get “buy in” from the WIKI community or the FT community to assist with the construction, maintenance, and updating of the WIKI pages (this could never be a one person endeavor)?

    Secondly, how would something like a Help Interface get initial and sustained exposure from novices and experienced users to make this a worthwhile effort?

    Without positive answers to these questions there is little point putting forth a significant effort that has little chance of being successful; designing and making the site is the easy part.
    • I agree. One of the biggest challenges FT has even under its current system is there is no clear communication channel. For Church Members there is no push from the pulpit to become educated in the "New" process. There is no real push among the FH Consultants to become "Trained" on the new program.
      I think in part this is so because in many ways FT wasnt(and still isnt) quite ready for prime time.
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  • We are beginning to design a help experience something like what you describe. It's going to take some time to figure out exactly what the right elements are for each product and each page. Family Tree is particularly challenging, as there are so many different things you can do.
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  • Lynne, If something like this is in the works, would a WIKI page be redundant or complimentary? Could two or three projects (your FS FT solution, a Wiki page, and the "WIKI family" as described earlier) work together or interface with each other?

    I know there are higher priorities but are you talking about months or over a year to implement such a strategy since it is only in the design phase? A WIKI page could be initiated immediately and presumably be up and running in as little a month (I already have the design and structure figured out); the full utility of such a project would obviously be more evident if and when it matures.
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  • A wiki would likely be redundant because we don't have wikis for all languages, much less an active wiki community to help write, maintain, and translate content in all of the languages.

    Therefore, we'd have to rewrite the information in a format that could be translated for use as help in all languages.

    We've thought off and on about using a wiki for this content. We keep coming back to how difficult this solution would be from an international perspective.

    That's not to say we wouldn't consider one, but it would have to be a separate, English-only effort.
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  • Thanks, definitely an issue I have not thought much about but will consider from now on. Question: Does this also apply to the actual help resources? Is all the help information (videos, papers, user manual, etc.) available in all the common international languages?
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  • All materials created from now on are supposed to be in all of the languages. Some of our legacy materials weren't translated.
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  • Lynne have you looked at my Wiki family in the Beta site
    https://beta.familysearch.org/tree/#v...

    Id be very willing to head up a user admin commitee for something like this. I think it provides a way to promote user based training and feedback on best practices etc. It also allows for training materials to be rapidly deployed and users to subscribe to WIKI via the Watch feature.
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  • Thank you for the interest and willingness to help. I will make sure the right people see this discussion. We are certainly hoping to be able to make better use of the knowledge and skill that exists among our users.
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