Re: Step structure (was RE: a question about verb tense/is or was?)

Subject: Re: Step structure (was RE: a question about verb tense/is or was?)
From: Christine -dot- Anameier -at- seagate -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2001 11:25:13 -0600


Christian Walters suggested rewording that example phrase to read "Click
ABC to open the ABC window" instead of "To open the ABC window, click ABC"
to avoid putting the important part ("Click ABC") at the end.

In a step this short, I don't think putting the important part at the end
is a major problem. I do this a lot with phrases like "From the File menu,
select Open." The rationale behind this is that it follows the sequence of
thoughts in the user's mind:

"From the File menu, select Open."
Users locate the File menu and then select Open from it.

"To open the ABC window, click ABC. "
Users know why they're clicking ABC before they click ABC

"If you need to frombulate more than one widget, click Multiple."
Users determine whether the action is necessary before doing it. (By the
time they reach the action in that step, they already know whether it's
something they need to do or just something to keep in mind for future
use.)

"When the confirmation appears, click Back."
I want to make sure users don't jump the gun and click Back *before* the
confirmation appears.

In cases like these, I make sure the action is the last thing on the line.
If I need to add explanatory material, I put it in a separate paragraph
(i.e., I make sure "click ABC" isn't buried in the middle of a lengthy step
or step-and-explanation).

Admittedly I'm splitting hairs a little--the world wouldn't end if we write
"Click ABC to open the ABC window." But I try not to put an action in the
user's mind until they're ready to act on it--i.e., they already know the
basic where, why, whether, and when.

my two cents is turning into a big pile of pennies :)

Christine



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