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Issue № 312

In this issue: Designing iPhone apps—what you need to know. And converting frustrated users to loyal customers by creating and maintaining good help content.

Good Help is Hard to Find

by Lyle Mullican · 22 Comments

Help content gets no respect. For one thing, it is content, and our horse-before-cart industry is only now beginning to seriously tackle content strategy. For another, we assume that our site is so usable, nobody will ever need the help content anyway. Typically, no one is in charge of the help content and no strategy exists to keep it up to date. On most sites, help content is hard to find, poorly written, blames the user, and turns a mildly frustrating experience into a lousy one. It's time to rethink how we approach this part of our site. Done well, help content offers tremendous potential to earn customer loyalty. By learning to plan for and create useful help content, we can turn frustrated users into our company's biggest fans.

Apps vs. the Web

by Craig Hockenberry · 31 Comments

There's an app for that, and you're the folks who are creating it. But should you design a web-based application, or an iPhone app? Each approach has pluses and minuses—not to mention legions of religiously rabid supporters. Apple promotes both approaches (they even gave the web a year-long head start before beginning to sell apps in the store), and the iPhone's Safari browser supports HTML5 and CSS3 and brags a fast JavaScript engine. Yet many companies and individuals with deep web expertise choose to create iPhone apps instead of web apps that can do the same thing. Explore both approaches and learn just about everything you'll need to know if you choose to create an iPhone app, from the lingo, to the development process, to the tricks that can smooth the path of doing business with Apple.

More from A List Apart

Columnists

Nishant Kothary on the Human Web

“Buy Him A Coffee”

Doing effective work often depends on the cooperation of colleages. Many of us struggle with this aspect of our jobs. Our very reasonable explanations fall on deaf ears. We’re not charismatic or extroverted, and people tune us out. We’re good at what we do, but we’re not “born leaders.” Actually, it’s not arcane knowledge or inborn talent that gives you the ability to win friends and influence people. Nishant Kothary realized that being influential is a skill that you can (and should) develop.

From the Blog

On Our Radar: Pretty Advanced Machine Learning

Between bots and blogging, newsrooms are getting into Slack in some very cool ways (take some inspiration and apply for a Knight-Mozilla Fellowship!). Plus more recommended reading: revisiting Cameron’s World; the joy of generalists; the finer points of faving; and one really excellent gif of cats.

Building to Learn

Whether you're just getting started on the web, or trying to pick up a new framework, Susan Robertson has a radical idea: build something that interests you. Sure, there are courses and tutorials out there to walk you through it, but a project you're actually excited about will help you solidify those skills and make them easier to recall when you need them most.