Re. Screen shots and context

Subject: Re. Screen shots and context
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 1995 08:59:35 LCL

To add to one of my previous postings, in which I noted that
screenshots should contain "as much context as necessary, but no
more":

Rebecca Filardo noted that she used full-screen shots when location is
important, and highlighted only the relevant parts. This is perfectly
appropriate. If you've got lots of active areas of the screen, and
users need to choose among these areas, you have little choice but to
provide the full navigational data: where is each part in relation to
the whole.

On the other hand, Karen Kay noted that tiny images of icons or menus
taken out of context frustrate her. Agreed. An icon by itself,
extracted from its toolbar, is meaningless... you have to hunt through
the entire toolbar to find it, and this can be a chore in most
programs that have extensive toolbars. The solution? Provide an image
of the entire toolbar, with only the relevant icon highlighted. (This
follows Rebecca's suggestion of highlighting what is relevant, in the
context of information that shows where the relevant information
occurs.) Similarly, for menus, show not just the menu title and the
dropdown choices beneath it... show one or two of the adjacent menu
choices, or show the entire menu bar (spread it across the width of
your page or column, depending on your layout). Don't show the entire
screen, and don't show the menu choices in adjacent menus: the menu
bar itself provides the context (where do I find the particular menu I
need to use), the dropdown provides the specifics. Voila! "As much as
you need, but no more."

--Geoff Hart geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
#8^{)}


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