Follow order of widget on screen, or logical order for procedures?

Subject: Follow order of widget on screen, or logical order for procedures?
From: David Castro <thetechwriter -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L Mailing List <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 10:12:48 -0800 (PST)

I have an interesting quandary. I'm creating procedures for completing tasks
using our application. The users are novice computer users (hospital workers).
The user interface seems to have more emphasis on looking pretty and balanced
than on being usable. Therefore, the logical order that someone would complete
tasks doesn't map directly to the physical placement of screen elements.

So, which is better? Put the procedure in the order of widgets on the screen?
Or put the steps in a logical order, and have the user bouncing around on the
screen looking for the corresponding widgets? (All of the widgets are right
next to each other, so it's not like the user will need to scroll around
looking for them.)

I've opted for putting steps in a logical order, since we're dealing with users
who like to have a straightforward explanation. But the QA folks want to have
the steps match the screen layout.

I know, I know. It'd be better to get the programmers to actually *do
something* with the UI review that we paid a specialist to do on our software,
but we all know that's pie-in-the-sky.

I'd like to hear opinions from both sides. (Then again, if everyone's opinion
is on only one side, it makes it easier for me to decide whether or not to
stand behind my original decision!)

Thanks!

-David Castro
techwrtr -at- crl -dot- com
thetechwriter -at- yahoo -dot- com
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