Re: What do we call this button?

Subject: Re: What do we call this button?
From: "Chuck Martin" <twriter -at- mindspring -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 22:55:36 -0700

Dannette Thompson <dthomps -at- foundationsoft -dot- com> wrote in message
news:73184 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> But... why do our conversations about labeling/documenting screen items
> always to turn into discussions about the design of the interface? We're
> tech writers, and not all of us are blessed enough to have programmers who
> accept our input and suggestions. Yes, it would be great if the [...]
> could say "Browse" instead. But it doesn't. And the poor person who asked
> for suggestions probably doesn't have the leeway to have this changed. If
> she did, she probably wouldn't have asked for our help!
Here's why:

Everthing a user sees in the interface (whether it is hardware, software, or
a web page) communicates information. As technical communicators, it is (or
should be) part of our job to make sure that communication is as clear and
unambiguous as possible.

A problem with the design of the interface the user interaction is a bug as
sure as a problem with the code that causes a crash or data loss.
Unfortunately, few programmers and program managers understand this. Thos
who do see GUI problems as such usually don't slassify them on the same
level as code problems, and so we are left with badly designed software and
program managers and programmers saying either

"Users can learn how to use it."


"We'll fix it/explain it in the docs."

We have to be (gently) persistent in educating the people we work with of
the importance--and cost effectiveness and customer happiness--of good,
consistent design. And because the design (of anything) communicates
information, it is very much in our realm.

"[Programmers] cannot successfully be asked to design for users
because...inevitably, they will make judgments based on the
difficulty of coding and not on the user's real needs."
- Alan Cooper
"About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design"

Chuck Martin
twriter "at" mindspring "dot". .com

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