Re: Before or After

Subject: Re: Before or After
From: David Dorbin <ddorbin -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l mailinglist <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 7 Apr 2009 06:18:46 -0700 (PDT)

Brian, in this example the latter is better, IMO. The former has the reader using a procedure in the Codes list box instead of clicking a button there.




________________________________
From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: Brian Neale <bneale -at- idirect -dot- com>
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Sent: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 7:46:28 AM
Subject: Re: Before or After

Brian Neale wrote:
> When directing Users to perform a task, do you tell them "what to do"
> before telling them "where to do it", or vice versa.
>
> For example:
> "Double-click on the procedure you want to use in the Codes list box."
> Or
> "In the Codes list box, double-click on the procedure you want to use."

No.

Test your instructions on the most naive versions of your typical user
that you can find. Listen carefully when they complain that it's hard to
follow what you wrote, or that they feel lost.

Consider that the major use of your written instructions might be to
find out how to accomplish a particular action. Instead of (for
instance) a list of the 47 things that each of 47 buttons do, they might
need a chapter that leads them into an understanding of all those
buttons, how they are grouped, and the right way to pick out the correct
button for smoothing the extrapolation, even though neither of the terms
"smoothing" or "extrapolation" appear in the original functional specs
handed to you by the SME.

If, as tech writers, we are doing anything that's genuinely worthwhile,
it's making life easier for people who are trying to find the
information that they were promised by the Sales and Engineering teams.
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ComponentOne Doc-To-Help 2009 is your all-in-one authoring and publishing
solution. Author in Doc-To-Help's XML-based editor, Microsoft Word or
HTML and publish to the Web, Help systems or printed manuals.
http://www.doctohelp.com

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control! http://www.helpandmanual.com/

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References:
Before or After: From: Brian Neale
Re: Before or After: From: Peter Neilson

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