Re: Aye, there's the rub (was RE: Yahoo has no staff tech writers)

Subject: Re: Aye, there's the rub (was RE: Yahoo has no staff tech writers)
From: Jeff Hanvey <jeff -at- jewahe -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 9 Oct 2002 09:59:52 -0700 (PDT)

I'm not sure that's it...I think experience has something to do with my ability to find what I needed. In fact, I remember following this sequence originally and not landing where I needed to.

In fact, I have a lot of trouble with website navigation simply because what I think I'm looking for is in a differenct category in the top-level navigation links. I often read over the links, take note of the areas I think I'll find whatever it is I'm looking, and then click on the "most" likely candidate based on whatever pre-existing schema I've developed. That doesn't all pay off, and I have to backtrack to get what I need.

I think training plays a big part in your expectations. If you use a service regularly, you are trained in what to expect from a link.

However, advanced users know they will rarely find what they are looking for on the first attempt (perhaps this is a shortfall of searches and online help), so they will vary the parameters a couple of times before giving up.

In fact, I was trying to figure out how to write some VB code in a macro yesterday. I had almost given up on VB's help because my idea of what I was looking for was different than what the help writers expected. I used what I considered standard terminology, which isn't the same (even between MS products) as the help writers (and probably product developers) used. It took me a few hours of actual coding combined with frequent consultations of the help to find what I needed. Next time I go to the help file, I'll have a better basis to do the search from and probably will more quickly locate what I need.

Am I a normal user? Probably not. Most people would have given up after a few attempts, but I *knew* the information was there, and I didn't know how to access it.

--- "Dick Margulis " <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net> wrote:
>Here's what happens. One person forms a mental model--a mind map if you will--of a situation. In this case, one person decided that any right-thinking person would realize that to delete your account, you should first manage your account, then go to Help, then want to configure your account.
>And sure enough, Jeff is a right-thinking person, because he figured that out one-two-three, zippedy doo-dah.
>The problem is that not everyone models the world in exactly the same way. And Bryan, being part of the not everyone, looks at the same interface and gets lost, because there is no top-level link to delete his account.
>The value that the writer and editor bring to this situation is that they spend at least a little time thinking about all the oddball ways different people can interpret a set of symbols. They represent the diverse ways people interact with an interface and, if they are good at what they do, modify the interface to accommodate as many different modes of interaction as possible and eliminate as much confusion and ambiguity as possible.

Jeff Hanvey:

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