Re: UI description standards

Subject: Re: UI description standards
From: "Michael West" <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2010 19:26:49 +1000

Tony wrote:
> I've commonly seen screen shots used only to document the user interface
> itself, to set the framework for the product's terminology....

> From that point onward, it's straight text:

> "From the Main Menu, select File > Open"

I don't necessarily disagree, but note that "From that point onward" implies
a linear reading behavior, which may or may not be appropriate.

Is this look-up material (for example, the typical online help system)? As a
rule we want to avoid writing instructions in such a way that readers are
required to flip to some other page to make sense of what we've written on
the page they're looking at.

As in so many things, the experienced tech writer will need to rely more on
his or her accumulated wisdom than any hard and fast rules.

As professionals, making a careful long-term study of where screen shots
have been used effectively and where they have been a fig leaf for
incompetence, and then forming our own personal guidelines, is our best
chance of getting it right.

Michael West


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