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Designing effective Online Help


A practical course intended to teach technical authors the basics of online help design. Includes a practical demonstration and a hands-on online help project, using RoboHelp/Adobe Communications Suite.




4 X 60 minute sessions

Tools used

RoboHelp, Adobe Communications Suite

Course materials

  • PowerPoint presentation
  • Tutorials and interactive demos
  • Online help samples
  • Course notes

Theory topics

An introduction to online help design and overview of some of the key principles and theory:

  • Principles of effective online help design
  • Differences between hard copy and online formats
  • Design of content for target audience and medium
  • Menus, Navigation and search elements in online help systems
  • Use of hypertext links, browse sequences, primary and secondary windows and popups
  • Inclusion of graphics in online help systems: thumbnails, lightboxes, callouts and graphic hotspots
  • Design for Usability, Accessibility and Search Engine Optimisation
  • Help formats

Advanced topics

  • Multi-channel publication
  • Content-management and localisation in help systems
  • Converting content from Print or PFF format to Online Help format
  • Embedding help systems within software products and support websites


Participants have the opportunity to create and present their own online help projects. The following topics are covered during the practical section:

  • Creating your online help project structure
  • Project settings
  • Skins
  • Defining primary and secondary windows
  • Defining topics
  • Defining non-scrolling regions
  • Adding hyperlinks
  • Creating pop-up windows and graphic hotspots
  • Adding See Also sections
  • Defining browse sequences
  • Creating an Index
  • Compiling and testing a help project

Advanced topics

  • Multi-channel publication
  • Context-sensitive help
  • Creating topic Ids and mapping Ids
  • Embedding external elements within help systems