Taking a look at Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps

Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps The world is becoming increasingly mobile. But you don’t need me to tell you that. Chances are, you own at least one smartphone and maybe a tablet or other device. And this move to mobile is having an effect on technical communicators.

As I learned during a presentation at DocTrain East 2008, creating and deploying help for a mobile device isn’t as easy as it seems. You need to move away from the tools, techniques, and mindset of desktop or Web-based help and think inside the mobile device.

While mobile has grown by leaps and bounds, it seems that technical communicators are still fumbling in the dark (or, at least a dim light) when it comes to creating user assistance for mobile applications. We’re still molding techniques and best practices, and there’s a real dearth of information on how to create mobile user assistance.

At the Open Help Conference this last June, I ran into Joe Welinske. When he mentioned that he’d written a book about creating help for mobile apps, I got excited. Why? Welinske has been creating help for mobile applications for a while now, and (based on a couple of chats we had in the past) has some great insights into this.

His book, Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps, is a solid primer on the topic. Let’s take a closer look at it.

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Invoicing with PayPal

PayPal It’s not uncommon for freelancers to receive some (or even the bulk) of their payments via PayPal. Aaron and I do — both for our work with DMN Communications and for the work that we do on the side.

We do the bulk of our invoicing with BambooInvoice. But some of the firms and people who pay us with PayPal insist that the payment requests come from our company’s PayPal account.

Fair enough. To be honest, PayPal’s payment request feature isn’t the greatest. It does the job, but it’s not invoicing in the truest sense. And it’s easier for Aaron and I (and our accountant) to keep track of payments using an invoicing system like BambooInvoice.

Recently, though, PayPal beefed up its payment request function with a very nice invoicing feature. It’s easy to use and it’s flexible enough that you can use it for any kinds of jobs or services.

Let’s take a look at how to do that.

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Thoughts inspired by a Chromebook

Google Chrome Throughout my career as a technical communicator, I’ve never documented consumer software or devices. My work has always focused on enterprise applications. Even when I did write documentation for PDA software or for the Blackberry, it was in the context of the enterprise.

Which is why I’m fascinated by the documentation that comes with consumer items. Most of the time, that documentation doesn’t do anything for me. It’s not that great. Or, it just doesn’t grab my attention.

Sometimes, though, that attention isn’t just grabbed it’s held on to. Not too often, but often enough.

That happened recently, and got me thinking about some implications for technical communicators.

Curious? Then please keep reading …

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