Re: Clarification on Help file question

Subject: Re: Clarification on Help file question
From: Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 4 Feb 2017 10:57:07 +0000 (UTC)

About radio buttons... We all know the dif twixt radio button and check box, right? Radio button is an exclusive option, and a check box is an inclusive option. That said, it was the fancier cars that had programmable buttons on their analog radios. They had a dial -- you would pull out the button, set the radio dial, then push the button in again to capture that dial position. I had a Dodge Dart with a radio like that -- before my significant other drove it with an empty radiator!Â

Anyway, why refer to them by control type at all? Most everything in the GUI should have a name... Call things by their names. That's what names are for.

Â"First decide how to enter your information. In <b>Enter Information By</b>, choose one of:
* <b>Geographic Region</b>: Type a region name in <b>My Regionn</b> -- Trash Flow prompts you with choices as you type
* <b>Zip Code</b>: Enter a zip code in <b>Zip Code</b> -- Trash Flow fills in the data it can recognize from the code you enter
* <b>Neither</b>: Provide all the data yourself, without help from Trash Flow's automatic Field Entry PoohBah(tm)
(BTW, "Neither" is a HORRIBLE name for a control. To understand what NEITHER means, then you must necessarily understand what all the other controls in that group mean. A GUI is supposed to make it EASIER to use the software. I guess this is better than making them write their own SQL, but come on...)

The point is, users don't care whether the control is a field, a radio button, and option, a DoIt button, etc. You don't have to mention that stuff any more. Unless your users have never seen a computer, you do not have to describe the details of the GUI. Useless phrases include:
Click the mouse -- Just say click. The user only has one thing that clicks... the mouse.

Click on the Foo option/button/field/icon -- Just say Click Foo. If it's an icon there might not be a name. In that case, you click the Eyeball icon (or what have you)... NOT click ON the Eyeball icon.
The Foo application displays x -- The application's name is Foo, so call it by name. And yes, you can give it agency (Foo displays x), which also means you can give it possession when that's important to distinguish (Click OK to save data to Foo's database).Â

Drag the mouse on the window's corner -- Just drag the corner.
Type in the Foo field -- Enter your name in Foo.

It improves the user experience if you dispense with unnecessary words and syllables. This stuff is boring enough already -- adding more volume to it only adds to the boredom. And that adds to cognitive load, which means the user has to work harder. If your customers are from another planet and have never seen a GUI before, you would do them a service by giving a section that explains all the verbs and other terms that you will use... CLICK means hover the mouse pointer over a button or icon and press the right mouse button... Put that in a separate section, then use normal language in the rest of the doc. If (a highly unlikely if) you ever need to do that at all.
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