An RKT is not a FAQ.
Instead of a list of questions, the layout and content of an RKT follows different principles:
Hypertext is essential to permit interactive, directed learning. RKTs cannot be converted into a long, monolithic document and still be called RKTs.
- "Organize for use, not Taxonomy"
Links and information should be presented according to how they will be used.
- Presentation should match the audience and their needs.
- Information should be layered, with general topics linking to more
- Rigid taxonomies/heirarchies (where there is a single path to a topic) are not acceptable, since that is not how the information will be found. It is better to have multiple links into a topic.
- "Short documents"
Multi-part/Multi-file is a better presentation than long files with topics. This provides multiple benefits:
- It decreases the amount of text which must be read to locate specific information. It is unacceptable to have to read or scan a long document (such as a FAQ) to find topics of interest.
- It makes navigation easier, by saving download/transfer time.
- It facilitates indexing and linking.
- "Links to learn more"
Topics should have links to related topics for further knowledge transfer.
- Links to overview topics and indexes. ("Broaden") Links UP (to more general topics) are essential, since someone may jump into a page externally (from a search engine, bookmark, etc.)
- Links to more detailed topics. ("Depth")
- Source/author of the knowledge is necessary to qualify it, credit the source, and provide a launching point for more in-depth research.
- "Descriptive Links"
The information accessed through a link should be known without having to try out the link. For example, users should not be "tricked" into accessing pages which do not exist or are under construction. A link which is only a section number (not a descriptive title) is to be avoided. Links to long documents should include a terse summary and a size. Graphical menus/icon bars are useful for experienced users, but are often confusing for first time users.
- "Present 7 choices (or less) per page"
Long lists of links are unacceptable. Whenever the user must make a decision about which link to follow, the goal should be to have no more than 7 choices for making a decision. This does not mean that there can only be 7 links out of a page. It means that if there are more, they should be arranged into 7 or fewer categories. It is expected that the 7 choices rule will be broken when presenting technical information. But it still should be a goal.
- "Keyword/Summary tags"
Topics should be tagged with good keywords. This serves a dual purpose:
- It facilitates archiving into a searchable topic index.
- It is a good hint of keywords to use to find related documents in other knowledge bases and RKTs.
- It functions as an abstract to determine if the reader has located an item of interest. (Search engines often provide the first few phrases of text.)
- "Searchable Text"
A text search feature should be included. Full text and titles only search.
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Copyright 1997, Forrest J. Cavalier III, Mib Software, INN customization and consulting