Re: Click, Choose, and Select (the hilarious comedy team of)

Subject: Re: Click, Choose, and Select (the hilarious comedy team of)
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 1996 15:12:59 -0800

At 3:46 PM 2/2/96, Karen_Mayer wrote:
[snip some background]
> I'd like to describe a situation and ask y'all what
> terminology would you use:

> A dialog box opens up on the screen and contains a number of items which
> must all be dealt with before the OK button is "clicked."
> First, the user has to type his name in the Name field. He then tabs to
> the next field and types his address. In the next field, he types his
> city. Now he comes to a drop down list box from which he chooses the
> two-letter abbreviation for his state. Later he comes to an option group
> box which contains the two options, male and female. He has to indicate
> his sex. Next, he's given a few check boxes to indicate his marital
> status and whether he has kids.

> In the text boxes, he obviously "types" the required information. For the
> drop down list box, does he "select" his state? Does he also "select" his
> sex? What about the items in the check boxes? Does he "select" his
> marital and child status? Finally, when he's done, does he also "select"
> the enter key?

> If "select" is used when the user has to choose one (or more) option over
> another, buttons would be "selected" and not "clicked." How do you handle
> that?

The problem with using "select" with command buttons (as opposed to
option [radio] buttons and checkboxes) is that a command button
may be selected (i.e., it may have focus - that little dotted
outline) without being activated. Command buttons do not behave
the same way that option buttons and checkboxes do, so can't be
documented the same way.

I would say, "Select the state from the drop-down list" (however,
from a usability perspective, 50 abbreviations is a lot to scroll
through and I'd hope that typing-to-search would be implemented).

I would say, "Select the appropriate option from the sex group."

I've seen both "check and uncheck" and "activate and clear" used
to indicate checkbox status. I prefer the latter, so would probably
say, "Activate or clear the appropriate checkboxes in the WhatHaveYou
group to indicate marital status and number of dependents."

And, finally, "Press Enter or click OK."

Be aware, as well, that option buttons and checkboxes are not
(in Windows anyway) mouse-only operations. Each control should
have accelerator key access (alt+underline letter) and should
also be accessible in the dialog's tab sequence. Once the
control is in focus, users can use the arrow keys in lists
and the space bar in option groups and on checkboxes to perform
the selection, so you're really not compromising your standards
(of using click for mouse-only moves).

-Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com

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