Chicken or the egg?

Subject: Chicken or the egg?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 15:09:09 -0400

John Posada wondered: <<Where "XX" is a type of action and is a choice on a dropdown list and "YYY" is the label of the dropdown list: Select "XX" from the "YYY" list of available actions. Or From the "YYY" list of available actions, select "XX".>>

[Triple-X changed to Double-X to sneak past the spam filters. <g>]

It would generally seem to be more beginner-friendly to specify where to look (e.g., the File menu), then once the person is looking there, what they should look for. This matches the sequence of action (find the location, then find the choice) better. Doing it the other way around places a bit more of a cognitive burden on the reader: they have to reverse the order of the instruction to match the order of the steps in the task.

This probably isn't a huge deal even for a beginner, but I find that matching the sequence to the action works better. (Particularly when I'm tired and frustrated dealing with intractable software.) I wouldn't bet that you'd get hugely significant differences between the approaches in a scientific study, but it would be interesting to find out.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)


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Chicken or the Egg: From: John Posada

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