RE: diagram callouts

Subject: RE: diagram callouts
From: Chuck Martin <CMartin -at- serena -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 10:10:47 -0800

And the magical answer is: it depends.

It depends on information that is missing from the query.

Do the connections have labels? If so, then use the labels. Using letters in
a diagram, then translating the letters to the labels that appear on the
product adds cognitive effort and can add to the possibility of mistakes. If
not, then there's a problem with the product design.

Does it matter if the connections are made in a particular order? If not,
then the labeling order matters not a whit. If order doesn't matter, and the
labeling is clear, then some users might work across, and others down,
whatever is most comfortable for them. If so, then the labeling and the text
should make it clear that there is a needed order, and what that order is.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Christi [mailto:christi -at- sageinst -dot- COM]
> Sent: Thursday, February 10, 2000 9:13 AM
> Subject: diagram callouts

> I've got an issue, and I'm just not sure of the best way to
> resolve it.
> I have a diagram that shows how to connect our instrument
> to a panel at
> the customer's site. There are six connections in various places; they
> happen to fall in two columns of three connections. I'm
> trying to determine
> the best way to order the reference letters. I'll try to show
> you visually
> with text.

> Example 1 - ordering the reference letters in alphabetical format.
> o A o D
> o B o E
> o C o F
> Pro-easy for the user to see a pattern in the lettering

Does it really matter that there's a pattern in the lettering?

> Con-the user would connect A, then D, then F, then B, then E,
> then C (out of
> alphabetical order).

If that doesn't matter, then this issue is irrelevant.

> Example 2 - ordering the reference letters in order that the
> user will have
> to make the connections.
> o A o B
> o D o F
> o E o C
> Pro-the user would connect in alphabetical order (A, then B,
> then C...)
> Con-the user might have to 'hunt' in the diagram to find
> where the correct
> letter is.
> Does this query make sense? I hope I explained it ok.
> Anyway... does any
> have a thought as to which Example would be easier for a user
> to follow?
Bottom line, if users have to translate from letters on a diagram to labels
on the actual hardware, then you're making users do more work. If the
product itself has labels, use those and throw out both the examples.

Chuck Martin
Sr. Technical Writer, SERENA Software

"People who use business software might despise it, but they are getting
paid to tolerate it....Most people who are paid to use a tool feel
constrained not to complain about that tool, but it doesn't stop them from
feeling frustrated and unhappy about it."
- "The Inmates are Running the Asylum"
Alan Cooper

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