Why I Hate GUI-Centric Docs (Long)

Subject: Why I Hate GUI-Centric Docs (Long)
From: Janice Gelb <Janice -dot- Gelb -at- Sun -dot- COM>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2007 08:59:12 +1000

Every once in a while, a discussion about how/when
to document the buttons and screens of a GUI pops
up here. From time to time, people advocate a
thorough description of the GUI, figuring that
with full-text search people can find what they
need, and what they want is to be able to find
descriptions when they're looking at dialog boxes.

My contention has always been that although learning
styles are of course different from person to person,
most people buy something because they want to use it
and the documentation should tell them how. I was
reminded of these discussions last night, when I
wanted to find out how to create a multiple-page PDF
with our shiny new scanner. I've provided play-by-
play commentary so you can share my pain :->

The only documentation is a searchable Help file for
my Macintosh. First I look under "Basic Scanning,"
where I have a choice of "Scanning with Scanner Buttons,"
Scanning with CanoScan Toolbox," or "Sanning with ScanGear
(Simple Mode)." I don't know the interface yet so I have
no idea which to choose. I quickly look at each, but they
describe each button or toolbox icon and I'm not sure
which I need so they don't really help me.

Then I search for "multipage PDF." The first hit says
"Confirmation of the Scanned Image and Exif Settings."
I skim the page and see a table under "Save as Type"
with descriptions of each of the items in the related
dialog box. Finally, in a footnote under the table, I
see a description of the choice I need: "If you select
[PDF (Multiple Pages)], all of the images in the display
area are saved on separate pages in a single PDF file in
the order in which they are displayed."

Further down, I see a description of the "Save in"
field that tells me how to set the folder to save the
file to. But I don't see anything that tells me where
I indicate the PDF file name, and there's no self-evident
field in this dialog box.

Back to search, to look for "file name." That takes
me to a description of the [PDF] dialog box, which
establishes the settings for PDF files. Sure enough,
it has a File Name field. Further down on this page
is a description of the "Save as Type" field and it
provides a little more information about exactly how
to scan a PDF with multiple pages. It's a different
and more thorough description than the one in the
other dialog box Help.

As a user, I would have much preferred to open this
Help file and find a list of tasks, including a task
titled "To Create a Multiple-Page PDF File" that
would have walked me through the process, rather than
having to skim through dialog box descriptions located
through the help until I found buttons or fields that
matched the next thing I figured I had to do.

-- Janice

Janice Gelb | The only connection Sun has with
janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com | this message is the return address


Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity! http://www.helpandmanual.com

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit http://lists.techwr-l.com/mailman/options/techwr-l/archive%40web.techwr-l.com

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit
http://www.techwr-l.com/ for more resources and info.


RE: toggle switch instructions?: From: Andrew Warren

Previous by Author: Re: Newsweek Article: "The Sad Fate of the Comma"
Next by Author: Re: icons vs. buttons?
Previous by Thread: RE: toggle switch instructions?
Next by Thread: Re: Why I Hate GUI-Centric Docs (Long)

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads