RE: Mac vs PC users

Subject: RE: Mac vs PC users
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: Sarah Stegall <sstegall -at- bivio -dot- net>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 2010 10:11:24 -0400

I respectfully disagree.

If the developers created multiple ways to accomplish various
tasks WITHIN THE APPLICATION, then I must assume that there
were reasons for doing that, and that the expense was
justified.

Recall that Deborah said:
"The truth is, it's dead simple if I can work ONLY
from the Palette, or ONLY from the shortcut menu or ONLY from the Menu
options (though this latter is more complex and I can't imagine why
anyone would want to use that route)."

So, my take is that you should document the multiple ways
of accomplishing those multi-path tasks, but that you should
do each one separately. That is, for task "Budge the Wumpus",
you would have a page for that task.

The page could look something like:

"If your Wumpus needs budging [click HERE for guidance
on determining whether your Wumpus should be budged] this
page/topic tells you how. Below are the instructions repeated
three times. Choose one method that best matches your workflow
and preferences; skip the others.

Using the Palette to Budge the Wumpus
1) ......
2) ......
3) ......
:
7) Your wumpus is budged.

For more information on what you can do with a budged wumpus
(and why), click HERE.

Using the Shortcut Menu to Budge the Wumpus
1) ......
2) ......
3) ......
:
5) Your wumpus is budged.
For more information on what you can do with a budged wumpus
(and why), click HERE.

Using the Menu options to Budge the Wumpus
1) ......
2) ......
3) ......
:
9) Your wumpus is budged.
For more information on what you can do with a budged wumpus
(and why), click HERE."

As near as I can tell, problems arise only if you try to
mix the methods or offer a lot of choices _within_ the
sequence.

Keeping the approaches complete and distinct keeps them
simple to follow, as well as simple to write.
Having them all on the same page ensures that the
user doesn't need to go looking or worry about which
Help page applies to their situation (the part where
you tell them it's all the same procedure, just using
different preferred routes to get to the same place
is reassuring, as is the parallel nature of the three
"different" approaches... especially the part where
all three end up at the same "Your wumpus is budged."
Having the optional paths always presented in the same
order on Help pages where there are such options) gives
the user some good orientation signposts AND a really
good indication that they could try a given task - or
their entire workflow - another way... and it would still
be supported in Help, regardless.

I've come 'round to that way of thinking after years
of trying various ways to disguise the complexity of
optional paths through procedures.
Things like:
- drop-down and expanding text,
- breaking sequences into 'arbitrarily' small
pages/topics, then using variously identified
links at the bottom of each little pagelet to
point to the appropriate next topic, depending
on which variant the user was following...
- breaking the sequences really small, as above,
and using color-coded links and page backgrounds
to show the user that s/he's on one path or
another.

The first makes a page look like a ransome note.
The second can become hellishly hard to manage.
The third is not recommended for color-deficient
vision and is a crapshoot where long procedures
can split and recombine.

Anyway, if it was just a matter of paths through an
interface, I'd do what I suggested above.
In my case, it's paths through configuration, where
selecting an option at one stage can have a big effect
on later stages.

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> techwr-l-bounces+kevin -dot- mclauchlan=safenet-inc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr
-l.com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+kevin.mclauchlan=safenet-> inc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Sarah Stegall
> Sent: Tuesday, July 06, 2010 8:35 PM
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: RE: Mac vs PC users
>
> Deborah:
>
> I'm a die-hard, dyed-in-the-wool, Mac fanatic. I have seven of them at
> home or at college with my kids. My husband jokes that he'll have to
> bury one of them with me. But even so, I would not agree with the
> feedback you are getting, that any function is "intuitive". There's no
> such animal. Anything as complicated as a computer requires SOME
> introduction, SOME explanation. Yes, I believe that Macs have a better
> user interface design, but I would never expect a new user of ANY
> software to automatically know every action. If you know your audience
> consists ONLY of dedicated Macolytes like me, then maybe you can skip
> one or two procedures, but unless you have that iron-clad
> guarantee from
> your marketing people, I would say you should assume your
> users are not
> accustomed to the Mac interface or its conventions.
>
> However, the advice I've been seeing here about not documenting EVERY
> means of achieving something is valid. If you're dealing with
> newbies, I
> would give them ONE way to do something. Put the shortcuts in an
> appendix "For Advanced Users" and a note in the introduction
> about where
> to find it. Your users familiar with Macs will be satisfied, and the
> newbies won't be intimidated.
>
> Sarah
> Uses Windows XP at work
>
>
>
> On 2010-07-06, at 10:03 AM, Deborah Hemstreet wrote:
>
> > Hi all,
> >
> > Are there any studies out there that anyone knows of that
> compare how
> MAC users interact with computers compared to PC users?
> >
> > Are MAC users quicker learners?
> >
> > I"m writing some Help for a MAC application, and a lot of
> the feedback
> I get is, EVERYONE knows this - you don't have to explain it (such as
> what happens when I click File > Save, or what an Action
> button is, etc.
> >
> > Your thoughts would be appreciated.
> >
> > Deborah
> >


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Follow-Ups:

References:
Mac vs PC users: From: Deborah Hemstreet
Re: Mac vs PC users: From: Elaine Garnet
RE: Mac vs PC users: From: Sarah Stegall

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