Re: Online/print

Subject: Re: Online/print
From: Richard Mateosian <srm -at- C2 -dot- ORG>
Date: Thu, 22 Sep 1994 08:16:49 -0700

>In addition, the book gives a better sense than most online
>systems of where you are in the topic, a better sense
>of how big and complex each topic/subtopic is

I recently saw Bill Atkinson (inventor of Hypercard, now with General Magic)
demonstrate and explain the Magic Cap software his team developed for
personal communications products like the Motorola Envoy. Because these
devices have small screens, each display fills the screen. Magic Cap
incorporates small but effective visual elements in its displays to help
users stay oriented to where they are and how they got there.

Paul Heckel, in The Elements of Friendly Software Design (Sybex, 1991), says
the solution can be as simple as a title like CASABLANCA 1941 at the
beginning of a movie. He gives other examples of how to use small elements
that let the user answer questions like Where am I? What am I doing? What do
I do next? Users can ask such questions at unexpected times.

I cite these examples to make the point that books are not *inherently*
better at orienting the user. It's a design issue. ...RM

Richard Mateosian Technical Writer in Berkeley CA srm -at- c2 -dot- org

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