Re: Mac vs PC users

Subject: Re: Mac vs PC users
From: Mike Stockman <mstockman -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2010 14:38:55 -0400

On Jul 6, 2010, at 2:06 PM, Dan Goldstein wrote:

> Dragging a disc to a trash can in order to eject it is just as
> counterintuitive as pressing "Start" in order to turn something off. I'm
> sure that in both cases, a whole crowd of engineers felt that it was
> obvious. And there were probably two neglected tech writers way in the
> back, jumping up and down and waving their hands, trying to avert
> idiocy. Again. In vain.

To be fair to Apple: dragging the disk to the Trash wasn't the primary way to perform the task... it was a shortcut. For ejecting disks, the primary methods were Eject Disk (I forget which menu it was on, but it was always there) and Put Away. Dragging to the Trash was a shortcut for Put Away.

One of the principles of Mac UI design was that you should never have *only* a shortcut. That is, Command-S can be the shortcut for saving only if there is a File > Print command as the primary way to carry out the task. For a detailed history of this particular instance, see <http://www.mackido.com/Interface/TrashingDisks.html>

But to get back to the original discussion, for the documentation we need to know what the developers/designers feel is the new-user way to perform a task, and what's the power-user way. Windows or Mac, doesn't matter. On Windows, most app have File > Print, a shortcut Control-P, and even a visual shortcut Print icon. If you can't determine what a new user would do vs. an expert user, you need to find out, and organize your material accordingly. (If there isn't a slower-but-more-obvious method for new users, maybe that's a red flag for the developers.) It's possible to document for both groups, but you have to know about the design and intentions first.

Mike
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References:
RE: RE: Mac vs PC users: From: Gene Kim-Eng
RE: RE: Mac vs PC users: From: Dan Goldstein

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