Academics are increasingly expected to make resources for their students available online, however few are skilled at creating web pages. Ideally their online platform (VLE) should be as intuitive as possible for them to use. Where it is not intuitive the help for using the system should be as good as possible. In December we redesigned our help to meet this challenge.
In the past we used a multilayered approach to help. We had the standard Moodle help methods, that explained how to do things but not how they would benefit their teaching, and the standard Sussex University FAQ system for providing help that we could tailor to our understanding of our users’ needs. The problem was that the user experience of help was fragmented – the Moodle help was too technical and the Sussex FAQs were on a different system. We therefore decided to create a help page within our Moodle install that looks-up the IT Services FAQs.
When designing the look and navigation of our help pages we looked at other modern web applications including Facebook, WordPress, GooglePlus and Dropbox.
We found help was consistently linked to on the right hand side of the top horizontal navigation tool bar, used search as a primary means of navigation and had a list of categories that the user could browse.
We liked sites that gave the user the ability to feedback the usefulness of the FAQ. We felt that made the help more personal and interactive.
And we liked sites where help included the name (and face!) of the user who last updated it, because there was a human to contact for more information about the subject.
And we liked sites which enabled the help to be printed easily.
Furthermore, we found that the logical categorisation of FAQs improved ease of navigation.
We found that the wording was important so that users could immediately identify if the FAQ would be of interest to them. Having rule sets for the creation of FAQs meant there was a consistency about the user experience.
When writing our FAQs we wished to reinforce Moodle terminologies, such as Sections, Blocks, Resources and Activities. Maintaining Moodle terminology was important so that users who looked for help outside our institution would not be confused. However, we added terms that the user used to the keywords so that our FAQs would be found in their searches.
Because we did not have evidence of the language used by our tutors we are tracking search terms used. This means that when we revisit the help pages we can start to rephrase the language so it is even more usable by our users. Furthermore tracking user searches will help us identify area which our FAQs do not cover.
We found that the search needed to use a meaningful algorithm. We wanted searches matching the question or keywords to be returned before searches that found the word in FAQ answers.