Translation of on-screen menus

Subject: Translation of on-screen menus
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2006 16:54:10 -0400

I'm writing a user manual for a patient monitor with a sorta kinda
Windows-like GUI. That is, there is a menu bar with drop-down menus.
Some of the menu selections open dialogs. In other words, the visual
metaphors are friendly and familiar, even if there aren't actual windows
you can close.

In the initial draft I included screen shots of the menus and dialogs in
the course of writing task-based procedures.

The client, in reviewing the draft, is concerned that the cost of
translation into something like ten target languages will be greatly
increased because of the need to generate substitute screen shots and
has suggested, as an alternative, that we mock up the menus and dialogs using text tables (the deliverable is in Word). The result would be logically equivalent to screen shots of the actual menus, but it would not be graphically identical.

What does the gathered usability jury say? Would this be a reasonable
compromise or would users find it confusing? One risk I foresee--and
that I'll mention in my response--is that the menus and dialogs as translated by the translation agency might not be identical to the menus and dialogs as translated ahead of time by the company for their on-screen display.

Thoughts? Any been-there-done-that stories, positive or negative?



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