How to Create a Web Help System

By: Eugene Ivanov
About Web Help


Web Help (also known as Website Help) is a help system that can be published on your web server or put into a shared folder of your local area network, so other people can access it via a browser program like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc. Thus, a Web Help system is actually a set of HTML files containing help topics from your help project. Of course, it should also include the table of contents and the keyword index to provide easy navigation for the end user.


A Web Help system can be used as an alternative to or together with CHM HTML Help. While HTML Help in the CHM format is mainly used as a local help system for a desktop Windows application, a Web Help system is available to your users on the product's home page. This will help you reduce time and efforts spent on customer technical support because you can simply direct your users to a web page with the resolution section that is located on your Internet website. Moreover, a Web Help system is probably the only document that contains lots product-related keywords, which can help you receive more target traffic from Google as well. That is the reason why many companies from Micro-ISVs to larger companies do create and publish a Web Help system on their websites.



Web Help is Your Only Choice for Web Based Software


Today, more and more applications are created as web-based software rather than as regular desktop applications. There are quite a lot of different Internet services that we use every day and most of those popular websites do provide online help systems to their customers. And it is really great when an average user who gets in trouble can quickly solve their problem without contacting technical support and waiting too long for the reply. Moreover, as it was mentioned above, having a Web Help system on your website, you can simply give customers who need technical support a link to the corresponding topic in the online help system.


So if you are working on web-based software, the Web Help format must be your only choice. Now, let's see how HelpSmith can help you in preparing all the required files of such a help system the way that you do not have to manually a big number of HTML pages, but can concentrate on writing help topics.



Create Web Help from your Existing Help Projects


You can reuse help topics and other information from your existing help project and create directly from it. HelpSmith allows you to automatically create Web Help by exporting help topics, the table of contents and the keyword index from your help project: simply click the "Create Web Help" command on the "Project" menu or click the corresponding button on the toolbar (similarly to when you export your help project into other help formats) and HelpSmith will prepare all the necessary files.


Simply upload all the files of your Web Help system to your Internet web server or simply copy them to a shared folder if you want other people in your corporate network to access it.


HelpSmith provides you with the ability to modify the default Web Help layout by using custom text labels, fonts, colors according to your own needs.



Other Formats for Technical Documentation


Thus, you can dramatically simplify the process of supplying Help in multiple help formats: create Web Help, CHM HTML Help, Printed Manuals and all that is from the same source help project.


Being an ultimate help authoring tool, HelpSmith allows you to create a Web Help system by writing help topics from scratch in a full-featured text editor, by exporting your existing help projects into the Web Help format, or by importing help topics from MS Word documents (RTF), HTML files, or plain text files that can be written in different Unicode and ANSI encodings.
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