Drupal 8 as a help center: embed documentation with the WalkHub Help Widget
Even though it has become much easier to create embedded help experiences, many software products still do very little to integrate their help content into their application. In this post we will explain why embedded help leads to better experiences, why we built our Help Widget, and give you an overview of its architecture.
Why you should embed your help content
Printed documentation manuals are a thing of the past, or are they? Very few projects take full advantage of the new capabilities that a connected world is offering. Most documentation efforts for web applications follow the paradigms developed in a time when documentation was a stand-alone printed deliverable, prepared as a reference source that customers would use to solve their problems.
If your documentation is not readily accessible from your application this is a missed opportunity: your customers are getting a worse experience and your support team is paying the price. Bombarded by an ever increasing torrent of information and impulses, people's average attention span is getting shorter. Users are impatient, expecting just enough information right when and where they need it.
Embedded help anticipates a user’s need for help and supports through examples or a walkthroughs in situ - or just the relevant morsels from the documentation - with the least disruption to workflow and focus. It is only a breadcrumb trail that leads back to the original action.
Actual manuals only come into play once the same users want to learn a complex new skill or process, gain a deeper understanding and confidence by having a reference.
Relevant help content embedded in the interface saves time, improves user experience and reduces support calls.
There are a few paradigms of embedding help content into a web application, you can read our overview about them in this previous blogpost. Take into account that your app will be changing, because it well should and will change: inline help needs rewriting, walkthroughs may break.
The embed help widget we created is your quick and simple solution to your UX problems without/while redesigning your app. A widget that opens on top of your application or website: you can pop up text, walkthroughs, videos etc. You can link in the relevant parts of your evolving documentation, explain complexities without crowding the app's UI. The widget's content is rendered by our Drupal CMS, so while it looks part of your interface the help content can be edited independently on the fly.
Embed any kind of online help resource into your webpage or web application. Serve contextual links from your documentation system.
Why we built the WalkHub Help Widget
We announced this January that Walkhub had been rewritten: it now uses Go and React.js. We also introduced our brand new WalkHub help widget and our intention to set up a Drupal 8 site where registered users will be able to create their own widgets. This site, embedthedocs.com is the result.
We created the EmbedTheDocs freemium community service for the purpose of allowing everyone (even those who are not familiar with web development) to create their custom instances of Help Widget for embedding documentation, including but not at all limited to walkthroughs. With this tool you can generate a widget in no time as it does the dirty work for you.
Kitti started to work at Pronovix in June 2015 as an iTrainee, and this was the first time she met with web programming. During the trainee programme, she evolved a lot on the field of theming and Drupal site building with the assistance of her colleagues. Now she is a Front-End Developer and Site Builder at Pronovix and she is also responsible for coordinating internal projects. Since January 2017, she is also the Product Owner of our Drupal 8 Developer Portal project.