Arbitration of a Help System

Design of an enterprise application is often an act of negotiation.

Business owners will emphasize features that best support their local business goals, end-users will stress simplification of their personal work flow, and engineers will stress ease of development. Often the designer’s role is that of arbitrator over these disparate interests. This arbitration is no less necessary in the design of user assistance mechanisms. This paper describes the authors’ experience in arbitrating the user assistance for an enterprise portal architecture. Although the designs considered were quite simple, competing business interests complicated the design process. We will describe the user assistance needed, the original idealized design, the different interested parties, and the compromises made to create a final design on which all the parties could agree.

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