RE: Here's why formatting and layout can really matter:

Subject: RE: Here's why formatting and layout can really matter:
From: Jill Waite <jwaite -at- criticaldevices -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000 09:47:59 -0600

And it isn't just people with poor eyesight or terminal stupidity. Remember
the 18-yr-old, first-time voter who was interviewed on NPR - she was, no
doubt, nervous and excited. [Aside: Shall I show my naivet=E9? I was
excited, too, and I've been voting since 19-mumble-mumble...]

Humans make mistakes (some of us more often than we'd care to admit <g>). I
am not suggesting that people shouldn't suffer consequences of their errors
but I *do* think that sometimes there are contributing factors - in this
case, a less-than-optimal ballot design. As a technical writer, I do my
absolute best to write clearly and unambiguously but sometimes, what I write
is misunderstood. I may not "agree" but I must at least consider revising
it, to improve reader comprehension. If it is a minor point and I have a
serious time crunch going on, I may decide to leave it as it is - and that's
*my* mistake to own and take my lumps for.

At the very least, I suspect this whole thing has given many technical
writers pretty potent ammunition when making the case for usability testing
to their companies!

Jill Waite

Connie Giordano said:
> What may be clear to you in
> viewing on CNN and/or the internet may not be as clear if you have poor
> eyesight, or if you read the sample ballot prior to voting.

replying to Dan Hall:
> Frankly, if you can't correctly fill out this ballot, where the arrows
> clearly point to the correct holes to punch and the numbers by the =
> candidate
> names correspond to the numbers by the holes, you probably shouldn't be
> allowed to vote.
> Of course I predicate this on my personal belief that citizens should =
> take
> an IQ test before being allowed to participate in important activities =
> like
> voting or getting a drivers license. <g>
> Obligatory TW tie-in: how much additional effort should we expend after
> providing clear directions that could be followed by someone of average
> intelligence? Write very slowly and in large letters so the audience =
> can
> follow along. <g> Step-by-step directions in baby-talk, anyone? <vbg>

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