Clickable bitmaps in online help: opinions?

Subject: Clickable bitmaps in online help: opinions?
From: Kris Olberg <kjolberg -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 27 Mar 1996 07:56:14 -0800

Through the years, I have maintained that placing clickable screen shots in
online help is a waste of time for users. (This is an opinion only.) What do
I mean by "clickable screen shots"? Essentially, what appears to the user
after pressing F1 is a graphic of the dialog box. This graphic contains hot
spots linked to descriptions of each of the fields and controls.

So what's wrong with this method (IMHO)? It's "interface-centric" and not
"user-centric." This means that it describes the interface rather than
telling the user how to use the interface. If the user presses F1 while
viewing a dialog box, for what kind of information is the user looking? A
description of the dialog box? A description of how to fill in the dialog
box? Or a more comprehensive set of tools (search, contents, menus) to get
to the topic, whether narrative or procedural, that the user needs?

Opinions, please. Or, if you know of research ...

kjolberg -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com (preferred)
kjolberg -at- aol -dot- com
102031 -dot- 3556 -at- compuserve -dot- com

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