For your own sake: “Read the Fine Help!”

I speak as both a customer of software (among other things) and a developer of niche software and in both voices I want to scream “Read the Help” many times a day.

We get many emails where someone has tried to use one of our apps and “it hasn’t worked” and they’re “really stressed”. At least 80% are solved by copying and pasting part of the Help. For sure it’s annoying for us to write the Help and then have to provide it in bite size chunks to the customer. It takes time and that costs us money, but that’s not the reason you should read the Help.

Reading the Help will reduce your stress and get you answers faster.

When something does not work the way you expect, it’s stressful. Not having an answer to why this app “supposedly” does something but it’s not doing it for you is stressful. Not being able to get on with your work is stressful. Having to be polite when writing an email to support is stressful (but we appreciate it).

And even great support is going to be hours-to-days to get back to you, only to quote the Help. The Help that you had access to right in the app. When you had the problem.

As developers we have to rely on providing Help guides because we cannot automate everything. For example, Final Cut Pro X and Premiere Pro CC handle certain MP4 timecodes differently, as they do with “over 24 hour” timecodes. There is no programatic way of determining that interpretation so we provide a Preference, and instructions on how to use it. In the Help.

I’m generally pretty good at reading manuals. From the time I was a teenager my mother would have me read the manual to the (kitchen or laundry gadget) and then explain to her as she had a strong preference to getting help auditorily. I even read the instructions that come with solar garden lights!

Although I’m not perfect. It was not until we’d owned our current car for over four years that I discovered the instructions for disabling the car alarm by putting it into ‘valet mode’ – very useful for a car wash. My only defense is that I was unaware that there were instructions.

But with software, there’s no real excuse. The Help is provided so you don’t have to stress out. So you can get the absolute best from the software and so you have support where and when you need it.

I can assure you that the Help guides for our apps include everything we know about the app. You won’t get better help by emailing us because it’s all there.

That said, if any of our apps is not performing  the way you expect and you’ve looked in the Help, we want to hear from you.

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