Re: When to use the word "button" -- ?

Subject: Re: When to use the word "button" -- ?
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2012 11:07:22 -0700

On 10/24/2012 10:30 AM, Gene Kim-Eng wrote:

Doctors, like lawyers, often need you to be excruciatingly specific because
over time they can develop the inability to pay attention to people they
perceive to be of lesser professional or economic status than themselves.
It's sort of like trying to talk to a politician. Or your manager.

That's not nice. It has little to do with how people are perceived; it has to do with the parts of the brain that are developed when learning these difficult disciplines. For example, lawyers often lose simple math skills. I never had strong math skills, except for figuring tax and tips, but I could simple math. After graduating law school, I can barely figure change from a cash sale, but I can analyze complex problems down to minutia and make sense out of them.

Doctors and lawyers spend their days dealing with complex issues, so they may not have the mental resources to grasp the simple concept of whether "continue" is a button or a link or a menu item or a keyboard key or something else. When you concentrate on problems that require a lot of mental resources, the view of non-mental things becomes one of tunnel vision.

For me, just tell me exactly where you want me to go and I will go there. If there are options that require reflection to determine the correct direction I may get lost or at least have to spend a few more seconds than necessary to get to where I need to be. It is these few seconds that are important.

Many things can happen in those few seconds it takes a person to figure out where "continue" is located. A person dealing with a complex problem may get distracted, while a person in a hurry may get delayed. Brevity in documentation may add time to complete a task if a user needs to analyze what element contains "continue," while clarity in documentation that requires more words may make a task as brief as possible by directing the user to the exact location of "continue."

Writing should not be about the beauty of the documentation, but about its overall utility. If brevity in documentation does not lead to brevity in completing a task or if it requires more time to complete a task than longer documentation, then longer documentation with more clarity may have more overall utility. Longer documentation also has the risk of boring the user, so all factors must be considered and there is no right answer about how much clarity a document needs.





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Follow-Ups:

References:
When to use the word "button" -- ?: From: Craig Cardimon
RE: When to use the word "button" -- ?: From: Combs, Richard
Re: When to use the word "button" -- ?: From: Chris Morton
Re: When to use the word "button" -- ?: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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