Contextual Help in Module Development

Bevan Rudge


May 13, 2008

Contextual Help in Module Development

One of the findings of the Drupal usability testing at UMN in February was that users like, use and like to use contextual help. Many of the participants explicitly said that they would have liked more of it during their evaluations and in debriefing. As a developer it is difficult to anticipate where contextual help is appropriate, needed or perhaps why it's even necessary. While usability testing is possibly the only way to effectively determine exactly where contextual help is needed and useful and where it's not, I think this example might help developers understand when where and why contextual help is likely to be helpful. This is part of developing sympathy for the user. While making some changes in Pathauto settings recently, I encountered the following error messages (larger image). Screenshot of settings page from Pathauto with error messages The language used is fairly clear, although rather verbose and long-winded, and arguably not worthy of 'error' status, but 'warning' or 'notification'. However the major issue is that the first message provides exactly zero suggestions on how to fix the issue, or where to find more information about it. A link to a related Drupal issue node, or better a help page or handbook page would be very useful here. The second message is much better in that it suggests a better approach and offers a link, which presumably explains what the difference is and why raw tokens should be used in place of not-raw tokens.
Pathauto settings, contextual help.png60.47 KB

Share it!

To be more clear: "Issues are better than blog posts" And if you provide a patch it might even get fixed...