Re: (fwd) Listing of Field definitions: Question

Subject: Re: (fwd) Listing of Field definitions: Question
From: SANDRA CHARKER <scharker -at- OZEMAIL -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 09:10:30 +1000

>I'm working on a team of folks who are coding an On-Line Help system. A
>question has come up. On any one screen we may have between 20 and 50
>fields to code jumps for. In the past we have always listed these fields,
>in the screen chapter, in the order in which they appear on the screen.

Does this mean that the user presses help from a software window and sees a
help window that contains a list of fields, and then they select the field they
want and another help window comes up to show help for the field?

Can't answer the question about order of the fields without more information.
Things to consider:

1. Is it possible to provide help for the field directly from the software,
with links from there to more comprehensive information?

2. If that's possible, is it a better way round?

3. Can users still see the software screen when the help is open?

4. Can users still see the list of fields when the help for a field is open?

3. How good are the field names? Will users remember/recognise the name of the
field they want help on?

4. Do users have to scroll through the list of fields if it's in alphabetical
order? in screen sequence?

5. On the software screen, do users always work through the fields in "the
order of appearance", or do they sometimes: skip fields; use fields in
different sequences; refer to fields in one part of the screen to fill in
fields in other parts; other...?

6. Are the 'Header', 'Body', and 'Detail' sections of the software screens
labelled or visually indicated in some way? Are these natural ways for users to
think about the screens, or are they developers' divisions?

7. Is this a GUI system? What's the screen resolution going to be? Is it
possible to use a hypergraphic of the screen instead of a list of fields as the
navigation tool? (I've never done this or seen it, but I'm itching to try it.
Seems to me it might provide a good compromise solution to some awkward screen
real estate problems)

8. Are the users available? Can you ask them to test both methods and see (a)
what they think of each? (b) how effectively they find information with each?
(answers do not necessarily match)?

9. How stable is the software? How good are your communications with the
software developers?

... That's off the top of my head. The answers to any or all of those questions
would affect the acceptability of listing fields aalphabetically. There might
be other issues as well.

Have fun,

Sandra Charker

scharker -at- ozemail -dot- com -dot- au ** Never express yourself more
** clearly than you can think
** ... Nils Bohr

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