RE: How many options to give to readers?

Subject: RE: How many options to give to readers?
From: "Glenn Maxey" <glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 09:48:18 -0700

Other postings mentioned essentially picking one method and then sticking
with it. I agree.

Where I disagree is in the method that gets chosen. I would NOT chose the
toolbar as the method which is always documented.

Instead, my preference is to document for the pull-down menu, such as "File
| Open...", "File->Open...", or some other consistent nomenclature.

There are many reasons why documenting for the pull-down menu may be better
than the other access methods. One of the more important reasons is that the
toolbar can be turned off, so you can lose readers.

Another is that documenting icons can be tedious. It messes up flowing text.
Moreover, from my own experience as a user, the icon images always start
running together. I hope that they have decent mouseover's to tell me what
they are.

Just because my flowing text consistently refers to pull-down menus doesn't
mean that my side-bars don't show their icons. Putting all of the icons in
the sidebar doesn't mess up flowing text and does provide association
between the icon and its menu.

As for keyboard shortcuts, most pull-down menus show what shortcuts are
available. So by documenting to the pull-down menu, I'm leading people to
the shortcuts. Moreover, the pull-down menus can be keyboard shortcuts
themselves, "Alt-F, O" for "File | Open..."

If you know which method you'll be using, be smart about it. In FrameMaker,
I would use character styles as a minimum, so that at least the formatting
of all pull-down references can be changed all at once, in addition to
giving me a means of finding them. Of course, it is also possible to go
overboard with variables to make changing the wording easier and consistent.

Glenn Maxey
Voyant Technologies, Inc.
Tel. +1 303.223.5164
Fax. +1 303.223.5275
glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com


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