We provide in-line or contextual help to customers in several ways throughout our products. The goal for all in-line help is to provide intuitive answers at the exact point on the screen where we expect customers to have a question or concern.

Intuit research shows providing the right help at the right time and place can create an experience that’s so seamless and contextual, many customers don’t even perceive themselves as having a problem or needing help.

Voice and tone in help content

Speak to customers in a sincere, reassuring, and perceptive tone. Remember they’ll be in help-seeking mode when they read your content. To show empathy, follow these principles:

  • Give them closure. Find a resolution for every person and every situation. Give them what they need to move forward. If something seems (or is) impossible for the customer to do but still needs to be done—help them figure out what to do.
  • Meet their need instantly. Give a direct answer right away. If the question is high-stakes and driven by anxiety, consider meeting their emotional needs first. Ask yourself, what does the customer need right now? Answer that in the first sentence. If details or edge cases are necessary, include them later on in an expando.
  • Don’t be ambiguous. Be crystal clear and don’t leave room for guesswork. Be as specific as possible with accounting concepts and tax law. Use language that shows we have a strong point of view. Write detailed and drawn out steps when needed.
  • Make understanding a simple thing. Break answers down to the most basic level. Be strict and don’t include info that adds confusion. Consider breaking everything into steps, if possible. Use formatting that makes it easy to consume.
  • Make things better, not worse. Calling out how “scary” or “stressful” something is can trigger FUD, even if it wasn’t there to begin with. Use words like these rarely, if at all. Instead, use patient, nonjudgmental know-how to help them get unstuck and push through.
  • Use “sorry” and other apologies sparingly. Use them only when we really mess up or can’t deliver on a promise. If you do apologize, make sure it’s authentic—not false, off-hand, or condescending. Help customers understand, but don’t point the finger.

Planning in-line help content

Do
Use hyperlinks at strategic points throughout the product to give customers access to in-line help in the form of tooltips, guided tours, and/or PONs.

Make data-driven decisions whenever possible about where to place help content, what type of help to use, and which info to include.

Make careful choices about when to keep or cut financial jargon. Sometimes we need to keep it and define it to give customers the terminology and understanding they need. Other times, it’s better to cut it.

Work with the right subject matter experts to make sure your content is correct from an accounting, tax, or technical perspective.

Don’t

Link out to external (non-Intuit) articles, websites, or resources.

Link out of the product to internal content (public relations articles, FAQs, support sites, etc.), unless it’s truly the best way to help a customer move forward. In most cases, being taken away from the screen and task they’re working on is likely to derail and frustrate them.

3 types of in-line help content

We use 3 types of in-line help across Intuit products, depending on how long and in-depth the content needs to be.

Guidance tooltips

Tools tips are 2-3 line snippets that give customers quick, contextual info about a specific feature or piece of the experience.

Use them to:

  • Point out a new feature
  • Quickly highlight benefits or entitlements
  • Guide customers through a new experience
  • Explain why we’re collecting certain data
  • Help customers complete a task

Do
Keep tooltip copy concise, to the point, and easy to grasp with a quick read.

Wrap headlines/titles if needed, but limit them to 30 characters or less.

Limit tooltip body copy to 150 characters or less.

Use sentence case for titles.

Don’t

Use tooltips for lengthy or multi-step information.

Guided tours

A guided tour is a sequenced set of tooltips that guides customers step by step at the screen-level. Customers step through the tour by clicking the next and back buttons in a tooltip, or by taking a specific action on the screen.

Use them to:

  • Call out or orient customers to a series of new product features or changes
  • Guide users step by step through a series of actions, tasks, or other multi-step information

Do
Follow tooltip guidelines for titles and body copy within your guided tour.

Keep guided tours to 3-4 steps, ideally.

Don’t
Create guided tours with more than 6 steps.

Point-of-need (PONs)

PONs are longer, more in-depth answers to questions or concerns we expect customers to have as they interact with a specific screen or topic. You can use them on landing tables, forms, and throughout the product.

Use them to:

  • Explain accounting, financial, or tax concepts and terminology
  • Explain rules or guidelines
  • Answer common questions about what to enter, where to enter it, why we’re asking for certain info, or what to do if you don’t have the info we need
  • Provide lists of information

Do
Keep in mind that PON content lives only within the software and is written to be very contextual to a specific screen or item on the screen. This is different from FAQs or help articles, which are written to be more general and can be accessed outside of the product, on the support site.

Start each PON with a short, clear answer that includes the most basic info about the topic. This content usually appears in a call-out box, and should apply to the majority of customers who will see the answer.

To answer more specific or in-depth questions (or speak directly to a smaller segment of customers), add 1 or more expando links below the basic answer.

Phrase help links in the voice of the customer as statements or questions. Occasionally, we phrase help links as “If” statements.

Examples

Tell me more about payroll services
Help me calculate my mileage
Why don’t I qualify for this credit?
Why we’re asking
Learn more
If you’re already enrolled
What if none of these apply to me?

Only punctuate help links when they’re in the form of a question or exclamation. Don’t punctuate statements that would normally end with a period.

For tight spaces, like landing tables and forms, use “Learn more” (not “Explain this”). In mobile and other tight spaces, PON links may also render as clickable question mark icons, instead of text links.