Re: Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking
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.
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