Re: What to use: Buttons, Function Keys, or Both?

Subject: Re: What to use: Buttons, Function Keys, or Both?
From: Chuck Martin <cm -at- writeforyou -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 02 Jun 2004 14:15:14 -0700

Allen, Emily wrote:

When documenting buttons on a GUI, is it also recommended to also include
the function keys command (e.g. F1 - F12)?

I am documenting a procedure for SAP and the trainer wants me to include the
function keys for almost all buttons. I'm just curious if this is a
standard or not.

To add to what's been said, there's nothing wrong also with letting the shortcuts be discoverable by users. Shortcuts can be part of user's interactions, such as in the tooltips.

Text buttons shoudl already have one shortcut in plain view: the underlined letter that allows keyboard users to select that button without a mouse.

While shortcuts should definitely be documented, I agree that they clutter up procedural text. Allowing user to discover shortcuts, sometimes with the aid of trainers, can make user feel more powerful, like they are learning to master the software. Discovering and using shortcuts on their own can lead to more user satisfaction.

Designing for discovery doens't mean hiding the information in the first place, just designing so that information can be found within the scope of normal use.

Chuck Martin
User Assistance & Experience Engineer
twriter "at" sonic "dot" net

"I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.
The day may come when the courage of Men fail, when we forsake our
friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day!
This day, we fight!"
- Aragorn

"All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you."
- Gandalf


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