I’m a huge fan of the KISS design principle. Kiss stands for “keep it simple, stupid” and promotes keeping solutions simple rather than complicated.
When designing help systems or developing content strategies, simplicity is key. Knowing that audiences are typically in the midst of process when turning to help, they just don’t want to have to know something before finding what they need to know.
Complexity, on the other hand, can be inherent in corporations with team-based decision systems. Unless everyone is on board with the KISS principle, you’ll find yourself at constant odds.
So how do you cope? This is where user experience really comes into play. What feeling do we want customers to have? Promote the idea that audiences, already frustrated with their lack of progress in their task, are turning to help in the most inhospitable way. Is now the time to present them with more questions to find help? Is this the best place to present additional learning options? Probably not. Remember, there is just one Google search engine. Google doesn’t ask users to select a certain search engine first. Audiences want to get back to what they were doing and it’s up to the writer to remove the barriers to their success. In some cases, you’ll need to sell this idea profusely to teams until you are blue in the face. However, as writers, we are the voice of the customer. Don’t be afraid to speak up and keep it simple!