An effective Self-Help Guide (SHG) makes it easy for users to find the information they need. To accomplish this, it is important to have a clearly define purpose as well as an understanding of who the audience is for the guide you are creating.
Define a Clear Purpose
A SHG is more likely to be easy to understand and use if those creating it can easily answer this question: Why is this SHG necessary?
A clearly defined answer to that question will promote a clear focus when writing the SHG. Consider these additional questions when determining the goal:
What is the problem or concern to be answered in the SHG?
Is the SHG meant to introduce new information or a new process?
What indicators will show that the SHG is helpful?
Draft a clear purpose statement for your SHG based on the answers to these questions.
Know the Audience
Take time to develop a clear picture of who will use the SHG. Carefully consider these questions to help analyze your audience:
Who is going to use this SHG? Students? Faculty? Staff?
Will they be frequent users of the application or process?
Do they have the background to understand most terms used in the SHG?
How would you describe the expertise of the intended audience as it relates to the SHG topic?
Based on levels of expertise, what information should be included? What should be omitted?
Will the SHG will be used regularly, or is the topic such that the SHG will be used infrequently?
Identify someone in the targeted audience who could provide feedback.
A successful SHG begins with a clearly defined audience along with a specific purpose.