I was wondering, given the wealth of awful help menus foisted on us by various services, whether actually describing the manual area of your application as 'help' was a good idea or not.

Do users naturally reach for such a menu when encountering a problem or have they been conditioned, through repeated failure to acheive goals, to the point where the word 'help' on a menu may put them off?

More interested in the psychology and conditioning than in technical suggestions on how to implement usable help menus, after all, there's no use in a good help menu if users gloss over it due what I'm interested in !

2 Answers 2


IMHO - Help menus on their own don't generally contain very helpful information. It forces the user to search for something specific to their issue that they may not have the knowledge to vocalize. The user might as well just use Google at that point.

A better approach might be to include the help as (i) or (?) icons throughout the application so the user can get help within context. This way, they can get something that is relevant for them, and if that's not enough, it can link to the specific page of the Help/Knowledgebase/Wiki.


By definition, the help layer heavily dependent upon context – thus your best bet is to conduct your own research for your specific problem. (Broader research is unlikely to answer your question.)

However, there are a couple of broader guidelines that I like to adhere to for the help layer:

  • Make sure they're aware that help content exists for their problem in the first place.
  • If content doesn't exist to address their problem, make sure they have another avenue to find the answer (chat, phone, etc.)
  • The need for help content can sometimes be a sign of an insufficient onboarding experience.
  • People don't like to go searching for things. Whenever possible, contextualize the help content (i.e. with "?" or "i" icons or sentential questions).

Hope this helps.

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