Crafting varied, mostly small updates to the help tabs for WordPress 3.1 feels like a slow motion race against time. Iterations of the Beta version need to be in place to see what help text needs revising; any revising must be final before the string freeze in the Release Candidate. Wait to be ready to dash off blocks of text and patches. Yet, I think a philosophy of contextual help is evolving for these tabs, even with that measured urgency.
This is my personal list and a draft.
So what are the tabs looking like, and what do I hope for them, at their best? That they be:
- Accurate, up to date, direct, clear but also go beyond that.
- Crisp, engaging, friendly, light, funny, solid, personable.
- Short enough. I’m working on a landscape oriented laptop, and don’t want any tabs to go beyond the size of my own screen. Brevity rocks!
- Pointed and evocative rather than comprehensive, and that they have one, and sometimes several, specific links to the Codex, which is where the comprehensive lives and breathes.
- Anticipatory of the most likely problems for any given screen instead of exhaustively trying to list everything.
- Suggestive of doing and learning more, about themes, plugins, PHP, writing posts; they should plant ideas.
- Like a good meal, or more accurately a buffet with many choices. (They should also be hearty and nutritious!)
- Dynamically linked, to the theme one uses, to examples using one’s own domain, and eventually to more developed handbooks and pathways.
A link with more links: There are a lot of Contextual Help/Online Help writing people and resources out there.