Re: To Dialog or Not To Dialog

Subject: Re: To Dialog or Not To Dialog
From: Kris Olberg <kjolberg -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 5 Apr 1996 11:26:53 -0800

At 12:36 PM 4/3/96 -0800, you wrote:
>At 11:06 AM 4/3/96 -0800, Kris Olberg wrote:
>>"Dialog" is jargon. IMHO, a large percentage of computer users think of
>>"dialog" as an oral interaction between two people.
>>I prefer "window."

>But it's not a window. A window can have a menu and is resizeable.
>A dialog box can't/isn't. IMO, using the wrong terminology is a
>disservice to the user. You do not build on any prior knowledge
>the user may have and you do not reinforce the platform standards.

IMO, most nontechnical users don't know the technical difference between
windows and dialog boxes, and I'd be willing to bet that most don't care.

With respect to terminology, especially when I'm writing for nontechnical
users, I prefer simplicity over rigidity. This reduces the amount of paper,
disk space, and most importantly, the information that the reader must
process. When I can communicate the same essential thing in one word
(window), why use two (dialog box)? Much of the time the technical
differences between window and dialog box are not the crux of what I want to
communicate anyway.

>I have usability tested this tactic and have never found a problem
>with comprehension.

I don't doubt that. Have you performed the same testing with simpler
terminology? (I have not.)

>When I'm writing for the programming community (in my present
>position, they are my end-users), I am more disposed to use
>jargon (e.g., dialog, field) because my target audience is
>more computer-savy and will recognize these terms. Why don't
>I use the "official" terminology for programmers??? Take a
>program with 20 dialog boxes and 200 text boxes -- multiply
>the extra letters in each official term to see how much
>the online help and doc grow.

Yes, I am also more lax when I write for programmers. This is to increase
the speed at which I write.

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

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