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Problems arise from "documentation" links in user cPanel

Discussion in 'User Experience' started by Metro2, Jan 7, 2016.

  1. Metro2

    Metro2 Well-Known Member

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    I think cPanel devs had very good intentions by placing the "For more information, read the documentation" links in the end-user cPanel interface, but for me it's creating support tickets from my customers and also brings up a few concerns of my own. I'd like to discuss it here and hopefully get some feedback from cPanel staff and also other users here.

    I don't want this to come across as a "complaint" thread. I just want to highlight some genuine valid concerns in hopes that it becomes productive / constructive feedback.

    First concern - the documentation that the link takes end-users to can be confusing for customers and in some cases contradict how we wish to instruct our users to do things.

    Examples:

    Email Accounts section - the user sees "Manage the email accounts associated with your domain. Use the Configure Mail Client interface to add an email account to your mobile device or desktop email client. For more information, read the documentation." and they click the link. That takes them to the documentation page on cPanel.net which includes a plethora of information that looks absolutely confusing to many users, and far more complicated than the instructions that I provide them on my own HelpDesk. It also includes instructions for services that I don't allow them access to (such as the catch-all "default" account which most users would just let fill up with junk and never bother to properly set up / monitor) and goes into discussion about SSL certificates.

    Forwarders section - the user sees "Send a copy of any incoming email from one address to another. For example, forward joe@example.com to joseph@example.com so that you only have one inbox to check. For more information, read the documentation." and they click the link. In addition to providing excess information such as described above, this too also contains instructions for things that some of us don't allow access to. For example, in some cases we don't allow access to the "Domain Forwarders" because (to be candid) a lot of users barely know how to properly handle a standard pop account for a single domain and therefore would just create a messy loop if we revealed that feature. Speaking from experience here. Heck, a lot of end-users will register / add a domain on a whim and then set all that up, then let the domain expire and leave all those settings neglected in their cPanel forever. Multiply that by a few hundred domains per server and you've got a lot of overhead junk for no reason.

    Those are just a couple of examples that express why the documentation links in end-user cPanel's in some cases actually generate more tickets and problems than they prevent from the end-user angle.

    Second concern - the documentation links end up leading some users to the cPanel forums where they either end up embroiled in going through documentation about things that are of no concern of theirs, or end up posting on the cPanel forums and/or contacting other hosting companies. While I'm not afraid of my customers seeing other companies out there (they all know there are thousands of hosts) because I keep my customers very happy by treating them well & providing good service, it still concerns me that they can get caught up in surfing through cPanel.net all day and digging up things that they never should have or would have to begin with.

    And so while I certainly would not list this concern in my "top 10" things that need attention with the cPanel interface, I do really wish there was a simple way to either remove the documentation blurbs & links, or set the links to load my own articles from my own helpdesk for my customers instead of bringing them to this site.

    Is this something that anyone else has ever thought about or has concerns over?

    Am I the only small host who has received support tickets/calls from customers that were generated due to these documentation links and could have been avoided if those links weren't in there?

    I appreciate all opinions and feedback on this.
     
  2. cPanelAdamF

    cPanelAdamF cPanel Product Owner
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    Your post prompted some great conversation within cPanel. We've been discussing other possible ways to include access to documentation AND more appropriate documentation for end-users which would help (rather than confuse). We've played around with a couple of options in our minds but haven't settled on anything yet.

    Ideas we've discussed are:
    • moving the current 'in-product documentation' (those text blurbs you reference) into default UI Includes so that customers can override our content in those areas
    • altering the 'read the documentation' links to be 'tell me more' links. When clicked, the interface hide and documentation would appear which explains the interface in question. A similar link would be provided to hide this documentation and show the interface
    • loading documentation remotely from our documentation-base so that our documentation team can retain editorial control and release at will, rather than release within the confines of our product's release schedule
    • targeting our documentation to specific audiences. For example, explicitly calling out which content is for Novice End Users, or for System Administrators, or for Developers.
    • providing interface tours which, when triggered, apply annotations to important parts of the interface. Annotations like this could be used to give customers step-by-step instructions for how to use the interface.
    UPDATE: these ideas are by no means comprehensive. Your ideas are definitely welcome.
     
  3. Metro2

    Metro2 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the reply cPanelAdamF, it was a nice surprise to see someone have a look at this and take interest. Awesome, actually, because it would be really nice to have some changes / options with this.

    I realize that this is by no means a high priority thing for cPanel but I'm glad it sparked some ideas over in the cPanel camp!

    I like everything you wrote so far. And honestly I'd be ecstatic to just have the ability to modify the documentation links for each section of cPanel to point to my own HelpDesk Knowledgebase articles that I've written to provide instructions custom tailored for my users.

    It's really nice that cPanel has taken the time to put documentation links in there to try to help end-users, but for many reasons (even in addition to the ones I posted above) it can actually kind of backfire for some of us shared hosts. In my case especially because I do restrict a lot of functions and have a certain way that I want my users to do & understand things. My custom HelpDesk articles cut down on a lot of tickets, but some users will never view them if they have the "Documentation" links right there in the cPanel itself. Would love to be able to point each of those links to their respective specific articles I've written for my users.

    Thanks so much for giving this a look and bouncing some ideas around! Much appreciated!
     
    Infopro likes this.
  4. cPanelAdamF

    cPanelAdamF cPanel Product Owner
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    One of the things I hope to do in 2016 is more end-user observations. We tried out a service in 2015 which facilitated this and we found it really valuable. In fact, in one of the tests we watched an end-user struggle with a task, click on the documentation link we are talking about, spend a few seconds skimming it, admitting that she was still confused, and then announcing that she had successfully completed the task when she definitely hadn't!

    The whole exercise was very revealing and I want to do much more of it in 2016.
     
    Metro2 likes this.
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