If readers of this blog remember, we had discussed about one ignored part of normal menus in applications – “Open/Save/Save as/Move to“.
Today, I was talking to one of my friends in marketing and I remembered my earlier wonder about why another part of UI is so much ignored.
That is “Help” menu!
Frankly, I think this is the LAST menu in the list of love of software developers. I am not sure whether the history of “Help” menu would go much deeper in time.
Typically such help is directed from the developer to the user. I will call it “One Way Help” – from developers to the users.
Ironically, users somehow live with the product. It is developers who need more help from users! Here is how.
If you are marketing a software, your biggest problem is “What do my customers want?”. [Even if you are doing FOSS, you still need to market your software.]
I have seen only Mozilla Firefox coming nearer to seeking a feedback through Help menu. That too is so buried and difficult to use, I wonder whether “its potential is realized” (that is “anyone uses it at all”).
These days word “Help” is substituted by a “?”.
In my humble opinion, bigger “!” menu should be displayed beside it. Clicking on it should lead to a very user friendly plug-in to register feedback – complaints and more valuable, suggestions.
That will answer “What do my customers want?” straight from the horse’s mouse. [No typo.]
How could it be very user friendly?
Say you clicked on the “!”. This should
- Open a screen snapshot similar to “Print Preview” but removing all the text and selections and
- Open a comment box near each screen control for user to comment
- It should also allow drawing arrows between controls
- The user then enters entire problem or suggestion and then hits a “Submit” button
- On the lines with the crash reporter, such a closure should post the form to the website of the software
There could be a bunch of marketing objections to such an idea:
- How to avoid duplications? We are already flooded with requests! [So I will throw the baby out with the bathwater.]
- What guarantees that such an implementation will result in more business? [So the ostrich algorithm is the best one.]
- None does that! [So, none needs it. The cart before the horse will run faster because it is already ahead.]
- Customer needs are so different, we will have conflicting suggestions. [I can prove it without facilitating.]
- It is just a UI! [ The best marketing strategy ignores the first word of what UI stands for.]
- It may yield only to a better horse carriage, not to a car. [This is a golden argument, provided your next product is going to make such a change.]
- It is useless! [So is the crash reporter.]
What do you think is the real reason?
Why doesn’t FOSS community adopt this approach universally? They NEED to improve usability. Can’t someone come up with libraries to achieve this?