Context Sensitive Help: 13 Ways to Test and Improve

After writing the Content Sensitive Help, create a test plan to check that the Help works correctly.

Before you start testing the Content Sensitive Help:

  • Clear the cache.
  • Open Excel to log errors.
  • Don’t test your own work.

How to Test Content Sensitive Help

Use this checklist to test the Content Sensitive Help:

  1. F1 — does F1 work? What webpage appears when you hit F1?
  2. Correct — is the correct Online Help page displayed? Sometimes the link may not work, which is one type of problem, the second is what a web page does appear but it’s the wrong content. This means you can’t assume that correct page is displayed. Check your Content Sensitive Help development matrix and see if the correct page is displayed.
  3. Related links — does the Online Help page include links to other related pages? At the end of every web page, you should have links to More Information. You can add these manually (by hand) or dynamically (based on content etc). Check that these are present, formatted corrected, and link to the right page.
  4. View — does the Online Help page appear behind or in front of the window? If behind, do you have to close or minimize the window to see the web page?
  5. Related windows — if several windows are open, is the Help page displayed on the parent page instead of the child page or another related window?
  6. Closing Help — do any errors occur when you close the page?
  7. Resize or move window — do you have to resize the window to see the Help page?
  8. Errors — are any errors, typically JavaScript, displayed when the Help opens? Do any errors occur when you use the Help, for example, related to the Table of Contents, searching for topics, or using Breadcrumbs?
  9. Scroll — do you have to scroll to read the content? Where does this occur, for example, on tables?
  10. Search — does the search engine work correctly inside the application? Check that it works locally and, more importantly, on other servers. Otherwise, you may be viewing cached results.
  11. Browsers — does the CSH work correctly in different web browsers?
  12. Internet Explorer — If possible, check older versions of Internet Explorer as many corporates are a few versions behind.
  13. Style — is the correct font, style, color, and phrasing used? Is the phrasing consistent across all web pages?


There are three main stages to developing Content Sensitive Help: preparing, writing, and testing.

Allow enough time to test the Content Sensitive Help so you can ship a reliable product to customers that reflects well on you and your technical writing team.