External help pages

If your app requires detailed help for complex content, consider hosting these instructions on a web page.

When to use external help pages

External help pages are less convenient for general use or quick reference. They are suitable for help content that is too extensive to be incorporated into the app itself, as well as for tutorials and instructions for advanced functions of an app that won't be used by its general audience.

If your help content is brief or specific enough to be displayed in-app, you should do so. Do not direct users outside of the app for help unless it is necessary.

When a user is directed to an external help page, follow one of two scenarios:

  • They are linked directly to the page that corresponds with their known issue. This is contextual help, and should be used when possible.
  • They are linked to a general help page, with a clear display of categories and subcategories to choose from.

Providing users with a way to search your help can be useful, but do not make this search the only way of navigating your help. It can sometimes be difficult for users to describe their problems, which can make searching difficult. Users should be able to quickly find pages relevant to their problems without needing to search.

Tutorials and detailed walkthroughs

External help pages are the ideal place to provide users with tutorials and walkthroughs, whether video or textual.

  • Tutorials should focus on more complicated ideas and advanced functions. Users shouldn't need a tutorial to use your app.
  • Make sure that these tutorials are displayed differently from standard help instructions. Users who are looking for advanced instructions are more eager to search for them than users who want straightforward solutions to their problems.
  • Consider linking to tutorials from both a directory and from individual help pages that correspond to each tutorial.