RE: Click X, or click the X button?

Subject: RE: Click X, or click the X button?
From: Keith Hood <klhra -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: KevinMcLauchlan <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, RichardCombs <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 Oct 2009 12:38:19 -0700 (PDT)

Actually, Kevin, I share your sentiments. We need better educated people, not more simplistic writing. But until I can dictate how the school system in this country is run, I'm stuck having to give the boss what he pays for.

Believe me, I wish I were exaggerating when I write things like that. There have been some times when I was able to write procedures at what I thought was a sensible level. And there have been many times I've written procedures, and the company told me to simplify them. I used to suggest that the company would be better served in the long run by replacing the people who needed dumbed-down procedures. That approach never got me anything but a shorter path to the end of the job, so from now on I say "you got it Boss" and do it their way. As long as the checks don't bounce, I'll give them stuff as dumb as they want it.

Anyway, it's Friday and the water level in Barton Creek is way up, so I'm going to bag the Internet and go drag the inflatable down to the shore. You guys have a good weekend.

McLauchlan, Kevin

> Other than the fact that it's not recommended in this-or-that style
> would anybody have trouble getting the meaning, or be confused if they
> encountered "Click [Next]" or "Press [Yes] on the PED keypad" in a
> page, with no 'Typographical conventions' page nearby to explain the
> mystery?

Well, Keith assured us that his audience includes "at least one guy who
needs to be reminded what a mouse click is." If he can be believed <g>,
that guy would be on the phone to the help desk complaining that he
couldn't understand your procedure (probably complaining about his
broken cup holder, too).

But I have to wonder if Keith's solution isn't analogous to what's done
all too often in schools: dumbing down everything to accommodate the
slowest (or least engaged), and thus doing a disservice to the vast

I guess we're back to "know your audience." And I'd argue that the vast,
vast majority of people who aren't computer neophytes will immediately
understand your square brackets, or any other consistent typographic
convention (e.g., bold) to identify interface elements. And they'll
appreciate having a 3-page procedure instead of a 10-page procedure.


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RE: Click X, or click the X button?: From: Combs, Richard

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