Skill #25: Nudging Users to Action through Contextual Help

As technical writers, we help users learn processes or complete particular tasks. And we offer this help in several ways, including documentation, video tutorials, or learning management systems. 

But get this: through gentle nudges and clues throughout the users’ journeys, technical writers can help users achieve their goal without sending them straight to the help site.

How? Through contextual help: the micro-copy, in-app guides, and info tips that developers and user experience designers include in their product to nudge users to action.

You’ve seen examples of contextual help. Think the copy that appears below free form fields, instructing you to enter certain content; or guided steps introducing you to a new interface. 

This is contextual help. And you—the technical writer—are best equipped to create it for your company. 

That’s why, in this episode, we have Kacy Ewing on the podcast: fellow graduate of the University of North Texas and tech writer out of Austin, Texas—though soon moving to Brooklyn, New York to begin a new tech writing job with Bloomberg. 

Kacy has created several forms of help resources—including contextual help—and, in this episode, shares the skills you need to excel in creating contextual help for your employer, as well, including: 

  • how to position yourself in the user experience process

  • how to practice your contextual help writing 

  • Where to find the best examples of contextual help