According to the Semiotic Engineering theory, help systems are a distinguished meta-message from designers to users. In this case, the designer is explicitly saying what he believes are the users’ problems or tasks, what he thinks is the best solution for them, and how he intends to make it available for practical use.

The help system is a privileged communication resource. Typically, help design focuses on designer-to-user communication of extensive help content, including keyword searches as the only means for users to express their doubts.

The idea is to promote a novel perspective on online help design and usage: Users should be able to express more precisely their doubts and needs, and designers should be able to anticipate such doubts and needs, and to organize their response accordingly.

The major problems users report with respect to existing help systems are:

  • Help systems don’t provide the specific information desired;
  • Help information is not available when needed;
  • Help information is not accurate or is incomplete; and
  • It is difficult to switch between the help system and the application.

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