Self-Help Guides: Provide a Clear Focus
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.