RE: Click X, or click the X button?

Subject: RE: Click X, or click the X button?
From: "Leonard C. Porrello" <Leonard -dot- Porrello -at- SoleraTec -dot- com>
To: "Robert Lauriston" <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com>, "techwr-l List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 Oct 2009 17:40:39 -0700


Extra time? Hardly. It takes about three seconds to insert an already
captured image and about 30 seconds to capture a brand new image (which
I rarely need to do). The benefit to the user is well worth the
(negligible) time investment.

As for slowing down users, again, the research doesn't agree. But maybe
you are imagining something that I am not thinking of. The screen
captures of buttons and icons I use don't significantly add to the
length of my documentation.

And finally, as far as I know, minimalism says nothing about using more
or fewer screen captures.

But it seems that you are more interested in anecdotal accounts than
research or systematic theories. So, I'll add my two cents. I find that
having a complete screen capture at the top of a help page orients
users, and having screen captures of buttons and icons along the way
enables users to scan pages more quickly. Instead of utilizing only
verbal processing, having to read every word, in-line screen captures of
buttons and icons enable the "reader" to utilize the cognitive processes
required for reading as well as those required for visual processing. By
being able to use more of his brain (inferior frontal gyrus,
parieto-temporal area, and occipito-temporal area for reading and the
visual cortex for graphics), the user is able to work through a help
page more quickly while understanding it and how it is related to the
GUI more thoroughly.

But as someone else mentioned, it all comes down to audience. I would
agree that an audience that doesn't need step-by-step directions also
doesn't need screen captures of buttons and icons.

Leonard

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+leonard -dot- porrello=soleratec -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+leonard -dot- porrello=soleratec -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- c
om] On Behalf Of Robert Lauriston
Sent: Thursday, October 22, 2009 4:22 PM
To: techwr-l List
Subject: Re: Click X, or click the X button?

It slows down users because when the content is cluttered with
unnecessary images they have to scroll more.

Usually when I see that stuff there's lots of other makework filler.
At one of my old jobs, one doc shrank from 2000 pages to 130 after we
switched to a more minimalist approach.

Even if there is some marginal benefit to users, I don't believe that
it could possibly be enough to justify the extra time the tech writer
has to spend doing it.

On Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 3:00 PM, Leonard C. Porrello
<Leonard -dot- Porrello -at- soleratec -dot- com> wrote:
> I suppose it's busy work if you're stuck in 1987 and unable to single
source. In-line with text, I use just an image of the button. And the
research indicates that this approach is optimal for the user, aiding in
"identifying and locating window elements and objects" (Gellevij 2002).
>
> Leonard
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
techwr-l-bounces+leonard -dot- porrello=soleratec -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+leonard -dot- porrello=soleratec -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- c
om] On Behalf Of Robert Lauriston
> Sent: Thursday, October 22, 2009 1:45 PM
> To: techwr-l List
> Subject: Re: Click X, or click the X button?
>
> You include a screen capture for every button? Even Save and Next?
> Cropped to the button, whole dialog, or what?
>
> To me, that's tech-writer busywork that leads to bloated docs and
> slows down readers. I do that only when the UI is bad and it's clear
> that the user will have trouble finding the UI element.
>
>
> On Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 1:38 PM, Leonard C. Porrello
> <Leonard -dot- Porrello -at- soleratec -dot- com> wrote:
>> I use an actual screen capture of the buttons and say "Click X"
(where X
>> is the screen capture).
>>
>> Leonard
>>

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.
http://www.doctohelp.com/SuperPages/Webcasts/

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

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Click X, or click the X button?: From: jennysubs
RE: Click X, or click the X button?: From: Leonard C. Porrello
Re: Click X, or click the X button?: From: Robert Lauriston
RE: Click X, or click the X button?: From: Leonard C. Porrello
Re: Click X, or click the X button?: From: Robert Lauriston

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