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As part of the beta review of OED Online in January 2000, we noted that the Help pages were neither in the same style, nor of the same quality, as the rest of the web site.
We made a number of suggestions and illustrated them with a couple of mocked-up pages; OUP then asked us to apply most of our suggestions to the 43-page help system.
The original version of the Help pages supporting OED Online did not make use of frames, even though OED Online itself did. We therefore converted the 45 Help pages to a frame-based format; she set frames up in the same proportions as the main web site and adopted the right-hand index style of the Tour for the Help Contents.
We also adopted the style of page heading from the Tour to Help. After applying the rest of the existing house style to pages, we then created a consistent style for key page elements, such as headings, information panels, and lists of links to related Help pages, while maintaining the brand colours of yellow, red, green and blue. Text style was implemented in CSS and an external stylesheet.
The Help Contents were moved to a permanent frame on the right-hand side and the A-Z Help Index was available in the bottom frame. The original A-Z index had gaps in. We felt that the index should include the whole alphabet and show letters in an "unclickable" style if there weren't any relevant pages.
The new approach maximised access to the Help Contents and Index whilst making the system easier to maintain because of the use of frames and CSS with the external stylesheet. We provided a template to use when creating new Help pages.
The help pages were later integrated into the Oxford English Dictionary web site when we redesigned it in 2003.
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