We are looking at creating some help screens for a mobile application. These will guide novice users through the interactions required.

My question is: when required to show some content on the help screens, should it be "real" content?

For example if the help relates to a menu should we use real menu text or dummy text? The issue being the actual menu text will change for each and every page. (but the help will stay the same).

  • I'm not sure actually, how dummy text could even suit your purpose - do you have an example? Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 9:23
  • An example could be: Showing menu items that relate to numeracy even though you are actually in a piece of content relating to literacy. The alternative would be using dummy text such as "topic 1" "topic 2" or similar. Does that make sense?
    – Sheff
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 9:30

1 Answer 1


Simple answer - yes, help should relate to actual content.

Otherwise users won't feel that they are getting help about the specific thing they wanted help about. The more closely the help appears to be related to the context, the smarter it will feel.

  • Thanks, if we use real content that is NOT related to the current page the user is on, will this add any confusion? As we will not have time to create specific help to match every single menu screen.
    – Sheff
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 9:28
  • err - yes - help that looks as if in wrong context is more confusing than generic help. Can you not build help strings at runtime based on context? Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 9:55
  • I'll see what we can do :)
    – Sheff
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 10:07

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