RE: UI navigation info for customizable UI

Subject: RE: UI navigation info for customizable UI
From: Beth Agnew <Beth -dot- Agnew -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2006 11:04:07 -0700

Ideally, the UI would be so intuitive that navigation information would not
be necessary. Well, we can dream. I'd start with your understanding of your
user and what they already know. Are they experienced or clever enough to
know that if they change the view, this puts certain items into different
places based on their choices? Likely, they are. Then all you need to do is
document the global schema and help them orient themselves so that they can
intelligently figure out whatever navigation might be necessary. You'd also
want to give them information on anything that deviates from the standard
schema, or where it is contrary to expectations.

There's no rule that says we have to document every aspect of the UI. If you
are doing task-based documentation, all vital elements of the UI will be
mentioned within the context of each task. (If they're not, and you've
covered all the tasks, why are they there?) Whar are you documenting out of
habit, and what does the user really need to know?

How difficult is it for anyone not trained on the product to find items
mentioned in the procedures? Perhaps you are assuming that they are hard to
find. Test this to find out what the users problems really are.

Consider adding context-sensitive help to areas where it is really


-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+beth -dot- agnew=senecac -dot- on -dot- ca -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+beth -dot- agnew=senecac -dot- on -dot- ca -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com]On
Behalf Of Chris Orr
Sent: Wednesday, April 26, 2006 7:36 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: UI navigation info for customizable UI

Hello techwr-lers.

My documentation team has a thorny problem with our product's new UI. With
the new UI, users can choose how they want to view the product, and items
appear in different folders and menu structures, according to the chosen
view. Additionally, users can create new views.

We do not know how to direct users to find the items mentioned in
procedures. We have tentatively decided to provide no UI navigation info in
the procedures but instead provide a comprehensive UI navigation section in
our Basics chapter. But we are concerned that users may find the procedures
they need, but not go on to use them because they can't find the items
mentioned in the procedures.

Whatever solution we decide on, it must work for us in a highly dynamic
development environment, where we maintain hundreds of documents and
localize them into many different languages.

Do you have other options for providing UI navigation info that we should

Presenting "Podcasting & Vidcasting: The Future of TechComm"
at the STC Conference, Las Vegas, NV, 2 p.m. Wednesday May 10, 2006

Beth Agnew
Professor, Technical Communication
Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology
Toronto, ON 416-491-5050 x3133


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UI navigation info for customizable UI: From: Chris Orr

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