Info before image or after image?

Subject: Info before image or after image?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 09:47:42 -0400

Ankur wondered: <<While writing a "developer guide" (online/printed), should information about a UI come before or after the image? There maybe proponents of both the strategies, but are their any standards on this?>>

I'll guarantee that there are standards; as in so many other matters of style, you can almost certainly find a style guide to support any <ahem> position. The real question shouldn't be "are there any standards", but rather "which standards are relevant to what I'm trying to accomplish?"

<<One solution can be to include a brief preamble before the image, with the details coming after the said image.>>

The advantage of this approach are as follows: You "prime" the reader by providing the necessary context for what they're about to see, and point them towards what you want them to focus on. Except for the most basic (abstracted) images, most graphics, and particularly screenshots, contain far too much information for a viewer to see at a glance which part of the cornucopia you want them to examine.

Having viewed what you told them to view, and having given them a chance to take their mind out of neutral and think about what they've just seen, you now either tell them what you hope they saw (to confirm that they really did focus on what you intended them to focus on) or ask them to do something with that knowledge (perform a task, understand something)--and sometimes you do both.

This works very well in practice, not just in theory; the Dutch are particularly advanced in researching the field of integrating graphics with text. (If you've got access to a university, look up the works of van der Waarde and van der Meij--I think I've got the names right. Working from memory, and the coffee hasn't yet kicked in.)

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


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Info before image or after image?: From: Ankur

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