Best help ever!

With this release we’ve redesigned the Xero Help Centre. It’s all the same content, just presented in a much improved way.

Here’s my very first Xero video to give you a tour of our super cool new Help Centre.

The previous design has been around since December 2007 when we essentially bolted a web homepage on to content that used to be written and managed as a Word document, but now that we have help for 4 regions and different types of help it was time to grow the design and make the content more accessible and obvious. Here it is – and still very orange – yaaay!

Help home

You’ll see that all the same content is still there – the full user guide, a series of short process-oriented ‘How do I?’ guides, some guides for using Xero in your business, the list of popular help pages visited each week and the search. You still get to Help Centre by selecting ‘Show help for this page’ or ‘Go to the Help Centre’ from the Help menu inside Xero or going directly to the Help Centre using http://help.xero.comHere are the main ways the content is presented differently in the new design:

  • The full contents of the User Guide is available down the left-hand side at all times and you can use the familiar ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons to expand and collapse this ‘index’. This is a great new feature because it gives you context and exposes all the other help available for the topic. It was often reported to me that when ‘Show help for this page’ was used from within Xero, that people didn’t realise there was a whole other world of help and potentially more pages of help related to the current screen than the help page being viewed. Now, the help page you’re on is highlighted in the index and you can see other related pages around it. You can use the little ‘expand all’ and ‘collapse all’ buttons above the index to open or close all pages. The Xero Help Centre logo will always take you back to the Xero Help Centre homepage.
Help index
  • The main Help Centre homepage is now arranged in a ‘browse’ style where you can easily see some main topics for using Xero and when you go into each topic I’ve highlighted some of the main or most commonly used help pages, videos and guides for that topic. The topics loosely follow the sections of Xero and the tasks you might perform and cover things like setting up, banking, invoicing, reporting, tax and involving your accountant.
Help browse
  • Each Help Centre page opens in a new tab and you can go back and forward between them for reference. You can use the little ‘pages’ button on the far right to close or show all tabs if you end up with a lot of tabs open, or the arrows to scroll through the tabs.
Help tabs
  • We’ve smartened up the search by building our own and it now recognises the region in Xero terms that you’re from (i.e. New Zealand, United Kingdom, Australia or ‘global’) and will give you search results relevant to that region e.g. GST Return or VAT Return. The recognition of your region has also allowed us to deliver content to the global audience using American spelling – thanks to all who wrote in to report the incorrect spelling of ‘organisation’, for you it will now show as ‘organization’ :) We’ve also hooked the Help Centre search up to Xero itself – enter your query into the search box on the Help menu.
help2appsearch
  • The main left-hand index and homepage browsing topics will remain fairly static so that they become familiar to you so you get to know where to go quickly when you want to look something up. However, on the right-hand side of the homepage is an area that I’ll change quite frequently to show things like most used pages, recently updated pages, quick tips or showcased feature and common questions.
Help features

I hope these changes do make the full content of Help Centre more accessible, and as always if you can’t find what you’re looking for or it doesn’t quite help you with your situation you can contact us at support@xero.com. Let me know what you think!

6 Comments

Donna Wylie
April 9, 2009 at 11:53 am

Love the new Help Centre – the layout and search options are fantastic.
Another job well done!

Campbell
April 9, 2009 at 9:29 pm

As always Xero makes things look Clean and Easy! Great work

Anthony
June 22, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Did you use a software package to write the help centre or did you do it yourself? It looks great!

Catherine Walker
June 23, 2009 at 9:41 am

Thanks for the feedback! Help Centre is our own creation, no software package, just a lot of writing content in HTML and publishing it to our own database. We had a few questions about it when we first launched this latest version of it in April this year so you can find out more about the history and technical aspects in this blog post Buiding Help Centre.

Thanks again,
Catherine

ROBERTO LIRA
June 24, 2009 at 12:34 am

Love the accounting on line and been able to have foreign bank account in local currency is great, I am about to join for my two company. Still trying some other’s. It would be a nice touch if we could print a delivery note after issuing invoice. Hope you can take this into account. I am sure a lot of users would welcome this. Well done and keep up the good work.

Roberto

Catherine Walker
June 24, 2009 at 9:19 am

Hi Roberto – we will certainly take this into account and you’re right, others have suggested it so we will be looking into it to see what we can come up with. Glad to hear you’re coming on board – welcome!

Catherine

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