Help text

If you’re not permitted to change confusing content, use help text.  

Context 

The purpose of help text is to give the user extra support. This could be for: 

  • terminology 
  • a legal implication 
  • simplifying jargon  
  • explaining ambiguous text.

The user may rely on help text to know what you are saying.  

Guide 

  • Determine what terms in a transaction will need help text 
  • See if you can simplify confusing terms. If you cannot, talk with your stakeholders about shifting the language.  
  • Engaging with a legal team or expert may be necessary. If you cannot change terms, use help text to support the user.  
  • Check which stakeholders may need to approve your help text.  
  • Usability testing is beneficial to ensure your help text supports users.  

Rationale 

Usability testing shows that when we use jargon, legal terms or complex terminology we confuse users.  

When we do this, they ignore the content or, proceed without understanding the question.  

Users who need to decipher difficult content can become mistrustful.  

This is often the case with:  

  • privacy terms and conditions 
  • disclosure statements
  • payment pages.  

Example

Radio buttons to select with complex language

 

Window displays over complex text with help text
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