Software User Assistance
If you’re looking for ways to help your clients use your software with ease,
you’ve come to the right place.

Multi-Level Software User Assistance

Often, the term software user assistance (UA) is used as a synonym for technical documentation, such as user manuals and online help.

However, true software user assistance is much more. Ideally, a good software user assistance solution involves multiple levels or “defense lines”:
Level 1:  The software is built in a way so that its structure and operation reflect how the software’s users think and work. If this can be achieved, large parts of the software’s use become intuitive and many questions don’t even arise.
Level 2:  Also the elements within the user interface of the software are named in a way so that they speak the users’ language. Again: If this can be achieved, many questions don’t even arise.
Level 3:  At places where the operation can’t be made intuitive (for example, because parameters need some particular background knowledge), small descriptive texts embedded into the user interface can immediately answer many of the users’ questions. It depends on the kind of software and on its use, how far this should go. If you have some software that its users use over a long period of time, descriptive texts within the user interface sooner or later will become disturbing. So, in this case, you should not use these texts―or you should set up an option for hiding them. On the other hand, if you have some software that users only use occasionally, descriptive texts within the user interface can be an ideal solution. A typical scenario where you can find embedded help texts frequently and for very good reasons are programs for declaring your income tax: These programs are used only rarely (exactly once a year), and at the same time users have a big need for learning which information to enter into particular fields.
Level 4:  If levels 1 to 3 have been implemented successfully, users need to read the “real” documentation only on rare occasions. This user documentation can then concentrate on teaching global concepts, on showing practical examples, and on tips that make the users more productive.
In the end, all sides involved benefit from a multi-level software user assistance concept: short documentation makes the product look simple and thus attractive, and it makes your clients happy. But short documentation can also be created more quickly and at lower costs. If the documentation needs to be translated into foreign languages, the savings multiply with each language.

My Services

I can assist you in designing and implementing a complete, multi-level software user assistance solution that makes using your software easy.
I can analyze what information the users of your product are going to need, and I can analyze how this information should best be presented to these specific people. This results in an all-embracing concept for the user assistance and documentation of your product.
Writing Guidelines
I can set up clear, easy to follow guidelines that help the members of your team to implement the planned design. This includes, for example, basic rules on how the names of user interface elements should be built and how assistive texts should be written.
Review and Suggestions for Improvement
If you already have an existing product, I can analyze its user interface and documentation to identify the spots where you can still improve.
I can write all the needed texts both for the user interface and for the technical documentation (where user manuals or online help is still necessary).

About Me

My name is Marc Achtelig. For more than 20 years, my primary occupation has been designing software user assistance solutions and writing software documentation.

I also share my expertise in the form of trainings, presentations at conferences, and in my books on technical communication best practices. In case you are interested in this, you can find additional information on my main web site

If you have any questions, I am also happy to answer them personally. You can find my contact details below.

Marc Achtelig
I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Marc Achtelig
Technical Communication Services

Goethestr. 24
90513 Zirndorf (near Nürnberg)

Phone:  +49 (0)911/60046-659
Fax:  +49 (0)911/60046-863