Re: Fw: Keyboard AND Mouse Instructions <opinions>

Subject: Re: Fw: Keyboard AND Mouse Instructions <opinions>
From: Susan W. Gallagher <sgallagher5 -at- cox -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 16:18:02 -0500

Anyone who's followed my posts over the last 13 years knows
that I am a proponent of minimalism. One of the techniques
used in minimalism is to document the single most straight-
forward way to perform a procedure and to allow the audience
to discover alternative approaches. This technique works
well with all levels of audience proficiency, but is especially
effective with technical audiences.

So, to document a procedure where the user must select from
a menu, just say "From the File menu, select Open" and let
the user decide how best to perform this instruction. If
there is an Open File toolbar button, it can be documented
in a reference section with all the other toolbar buttons.
Other alternatives can also be mentioned to foster discovery.
For example, telling a highly technical user that drag-and-
drop is implemented throughout the interface allows them to experiment by dragging various items around to see where
they can be dropped.

This technique makes for much "cleaner" and clearer docs that,
IMO, are much easier to follow then what I affectionatly
call the "Ray Jay Johnson" approach.

(Ray Jay Johnson - comedian whose claim to fame was/is
"You can call me Ray or you can call me Ray Jay or you can
call me Ray Jay J. or you can call me ... but ya doesn't
have to call me Ray Jay Johnson")

This routine is funny the first couple of times you hear it,
but becomes old really fast. Likewise, your documentation, if
it attempts to describe every possible technique, prompts a
similar reaction -- Jeez! Enough already! I get it!

-Sue Gallagher

> From: dan -dot- gallagher -at- pulsartech -dot- com
> This has been bugging me for a while now...
> My company's audience is fairly technical...
> The question is, should I include BOTH keyboard AND mouse instructions in
> my documentation? It seems to me that anyone turning on a pc these days is
> usually (at least the majority) using a mouse for everything. It's a real
> hassle and clutter to include "press [Alt] [P], then [C] etc." over and
> over and over again everywhere there's a menu command (of which there are
> many). I'm not trying to be lazy here, I just think it extremely clutters
> up the documentation. And who knows, it may confuse some. I do put a
> wingding keyboard in front of k/b cmds and a wingding mouse in front of
> mouse cmds. But still.......


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