Re: Visuals in work instructions: how many is too much?

Subject: Re: Visuals in work instructions: how many is too much?
From: "Stephanie Bryant" <mortaine -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2007 15:47:22 -0700

Today, I encountered a fun problem on my computer involving user
interfaces. Every time I launched a particular program, it displayed
the window and the menu bar, but no buttons or other UI elements. And
yet, if I clicked randomly on the toolbar, things happened. The
non-displaying buttons were *active* but did not show up. I couldn't
tell if my file was open, and the company had already told me that if
there's no file open, then the buttons don't display.

I also had this problem during installation. Thankfully, the "OK"
buttons are usually in the same place in installer programs, so I was
able to fake it for the first part. When I encountered the license
key page, I later learned that it has five different buttons, and only
one (the Cancel button) worked on my UI.

If there had been a set of screen shots showing me what the screens
looked like, I would at least have known what I should be looking at,
and what areas of the screen would "do stuff." I would have known
which area to click to accept the license agreement that I couldn't

Moral of the story: Use as many graphics as you need to to give the
user a complete picture of the task. One per step in a task isn't too
many, if the layout supports it. Be generous and articulate with your
graphics, be they screen shots, diagrams, flowcharts, or photographs.

On 6/5/07, Jim Morgan <Jim -dot- Morgan -at- jdsu -dot- com> wrote:
> But for most audiences and uses, I think putting in too many visuals
> slows down reading speed without added benefit. (In print, anyway: In
> hypertexts, this problem is easily solved by providing links to
> nonessential visuals, instead of embedding the visuals in the text.) My
> practice has been to include visuals if, as one of the other replies
> noted, the text cannot make the action clear.

Stephanie Bryant
Author, Videoblogging for Dummies
mortaine -at- gmail -dot- com

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RE: Visuals in work instructions: how many is too much?: From: Jim Morgan

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