Re: In reference to number of steps

Subject: Re: In reference to number of steps
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 04:47:12 -0700 (PDT)

--- Dan Roberts <droberts63 -at- earthlink -dot- net> wrote:
> I dunno. 50 steps would lead me to think "Gawd, does it ever end?" So
> even if all 50 steps are in one flow, and that flow can be ...not
> broken out, no subdivided, not sectioned...perhaps "phased" is the
> word I want...phased into a few main phases, then I can hold that
> idea in my head better. And I guess, if you can determine "phases"
> then steps 14-26 are simply little parts of one major step.

First, I too would be daunted by a 50 step procedure. As a writer, I
would try to find a way for the user to accomplish the needed task as
easily as possible given the design of the task involved. But I don't
think documentation can 'save' a bad design. The best we can hope to do
is make it possible for users to accomplish the tasks they need to
accomplish despite the poor design. I don't design 'em, I just document

> >I much prefer to see procedures that are one step per task. (Do
> >this; this happens. Do that; this other thing happens.)
> Just out of curiosity, what do you do when there are bunches of
> fields to fill in one window/dialog/panel--is each field a step, or
> are they all pieces of the one step of filling out the
> window/dialog/panel?

The standard answer in this business is, of course, it depends. It
depends on the task. It depends on what the interface does when various
entries are made (do pop-ups occur in certain fields? how are invalid
entries handled by the form processor? etc.). In general, I would try
to make it as easy as possible for the user to fill out the form. Each
case is different. I might actually combine entries into a single step,
if the interface behaves in a consistent manner throughout the form.
Some do, but some don't.

Tom Murrell
Lead Technical Writer
Alliance Data Systems
Columbus, Ohio
mailto:trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com
Personal Web Page -

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