Re: Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking

Subject: Re: Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking
From: Dick Margulis <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 07:37:15 -0400

Michael West wrote:

Yes, I pretty much agree, except that
online help and "tool-tips" is often a
better vehicle for "explaining" the interface.
And often the interface doesn't really
need "explaining" so this type of cataloguing
often a kind of substitute for real, hands-on tech writing.

Michael, in the environment where you and I generally work, tool tips and online help are, well, potentially helpful. On a 24-line character display terminal, where a data entry clerk is getting a cryptic error message about an improperly formatted entry in a field on a form she rarely uses, though, a field-level reference manual is a good thing. And if there's time to populate the developer-controlled help system with the tech-writer-written field descriptions, that's an even better thing. (Been there, done that, wrote the macro. Interleaf rocks.)

Maybe it's me, but I never have much
curiosity about what an interface object
"does" except as part of a workflow that
gets a task accomplished. If it doesn't help me do the task I'm trying to do,
then I don't care about it. Not now, anyway--
maybe I will next week when I'm trying to do something else.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on the application as well as the curiosity level and learning strategy of the user at any given moment. While you may be consistent in your approach, some users may be looking at all the whiz-bang tools on the Photoshop interface and wondering what some of them do. Maybe the tooltip is a word or phrase that is not particularly meaningful to that user (shortcoming of the user's education, of course, but still). It's good to have a place to look up what the tool does, as this may inspire a creative thought about enhancing the image.

[This E-mail scanned for viruses at]


Robohelp X3, from eHelp, lets you quickly and easily create professional Help systems for all your Windows and Web-based applications, including Net.
Order RoboHelp X3 in May and receive a $100 mail-in rebate, PLUS
free RoboScreenCapture and WebHelp Merge Module.
Order RoboHelp today:

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Re: Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking: From: Jan Henning
Re: Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking: From: Michael West

Previous by Author: Re: system administrators and documentation
Next by Author: Re: Work Attire
Previous by Thread: Re: Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking
Next by Thread: Re: Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads