Many believe that written user guides are doomed to extinction. Although their usage has diminished slightly, they are not clean gone yet. They are still with us—serving their particular audience and making us wonder what is the best approach to structuring them.
With the rise in the popularity of online documentation, many have ditched linearity and adopted a topic-based approach to writing—faster, more convenient, and definitely more efficient from the user perspective; absolutely challenging from the author perspective. But is such an approach still any good for structuring user guides which, unlike help systems, don’t provide immediate assistance to the user, differ in the very context of use, and are designed with a clear intention—to teach and guide?