Making the Most of Interactivity Online

This article appared in Technical Communication, August 2001, Vol. 48, No. 3. (requires registration and login, full text requires subscription). Technical communicators need to create effective online interactions to help users understand the scope, purpose, and limits of their online documents. Ideally, a well-designed online document provides an integrated data environment. It functions as the interface between the user and a system, allowing for the retrieval and assimilation of information needed to perform a task. Online information can be presented in a variety of formats, including online help systems, computer-based training (CBT) programs, and interactive electronic technical manuals (IETM). The benefits of an effective online system include the elimination of paper bulk and storage, improved document usability through interactivity, and the use of the document as a learning, training, and research aid.