The usability and ultimately the success of web-based services are partly due to effective user support. Although the use of online support tools is now more prevalent in Web applications, these often overwhelm the user with information poorly organized, or are simply ignored (Parush and Kaporovsky Parush, 2001). This paper proposes a guide for the appropriate choice and design of task support tools based on user profiles, tasks and characteristics of help tools.
An increasing number of applications are being developed on the Web, and their usability is considered as being critical for success (Donahue et al., 1999). One important aspect of Web application usability is its capacity to successfully support users while they are completing their tasks. The best way to support users is to provide task support tools that are embedded in the application. Very few guidelines have been proposed to help designers choose the appropriate tools based on users types, needs and tasks.
The main purpose of this paper is to explore the different ways of supporting users electronically, the current trends in task support, and the effectiveness of the different tools available. It provides a guide that could be useful to anyone interested in developing online help to improve the usability of their Web applications.