In this lesson you will review different ways you can find help online. Being able to use your strong technology skill to find answers to your questions is critical to being able to use digital tools in the most productive way. Specifically, this lesson will cover:
- Product Websites
- Support Pages
- FAQ Pages
- User Forums
1. Product Websites
As shared in the previous lesson, you will often find you need to learn more about any tool under consideration or even one you are already using. It might be an app, software or even hardware. Knowing where to look for valid information is important.
- 1a. Support Pages
An obvious and great place to start any research is the webpage for the program or app in question. These pages often include information on things like features and device requirements. For example, the page may tell you if it is meant for Windows or iOS for Mac. This is also a great place to find directions on how to use the app or program. The image below shows a support page
for MS Office.
All support pages are not created equal. Some have more information than others and some are easier to navigate than others. Even so, it is one of the best places to start your search when looking for key information on any tool you currently use or are thinking about using.
Word Help Center
. Take some time to click into different areas and/or search for a specific topic.
- Support Page
- Website pages that include information on things like features and device requirements.
- 1b. FAQ Pages
stands for Frequently Asked Questions. These lists are a compilation of the most often asked questions by users of the product, along with answers to these questions. If the answers are coming from a trustworthy place, these are a fast and easy way to answer some of your own questions. These pages are also frequently updated as new questions come in about new features or updates. The image below shows an FAQ page for MS Word.
Your supervisor has asked you to create a spreadsheet that will automatically add some values as you enter them. You have never used formulas in Excel before. What could you search in the Excel FAQ page to learn more about how to use this feature?
- FAQ Lists
- Compilations of the most often asked questions by users of the product, along with answers to these questions.
- 1c. User Forums
You have already learned that reviews from other users can be useful. User Forums
are an online space that allows users to “talk” to each other in a threaded discussion format. You may find answers to questions you have here and you may even be able to answer someone else’s question.
The image above shows the landing page for Apple Support Communities. Here you can select a community related to a specific product or type a question in the search bar to try to get the information you need.
An important note about User Forums is that this is user generated content. That means anyone can create one, visit or answer a question. You may need to verify that the information shared is correct as it is not coming from an expert or someone affiliated with the company. Using official forums like the one shown above can make it more likely they are accurate.
Gale typed “Computer can’t find HP my printer?” in the Google search box. Her first result is shown below.
She noted the HP in the web address. This gave her confidence it was a reputable site. She also noted the preview showing some of the threads and their dates. She clicked the link and found a solution within 10 minutes.
- User Forums
- An online space that allows users to “talk” to each other in a threaded discussion format.
Many people learn best when they can read something. Others learn best when they can hear it being explained. Still others learn best by seeing something. You may find your learning style varies depending on the circumstances. For many people, videos are very helpful when it comes to learning about digital tools and technology.
“How to” videos are often helpful when it comes to understanding technology because you can see someone else walk through the steps needed to be successful. For example, check out this Google Video that shows you how to view the revision history in a Google Doc. As shared earlier, going directly to the company or organization site is typical best, but you can also search a site likeYouTube to find lots of user generated content that could be very helpful.
Think about the last time you needed to learn how to do something with a program or app. Were you able to quickly find the help you needed? What strategies did you use to find answers? Now that you know all the places you can look for help, do you think you can search more efficiently and effectively next time?
In this lesson, you learned that you have options when it comes to looking for help online. On product websites you can visit support pages, FAQs and user forums. You can also watch “how to” videos from both companies and users. Your strong technology skill can help you locate and navigate these resources. Finding the help you need can help you improve your productivity as you solve problems and/or determine the most efficient and effective ways to use tool.
On to the next lesson!