Re: Procedural Steps

Subject: Re: Procedural Steps
From: Ann Amsler <aamsler -at- UDEL -dot- EDU>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 1996 09:43:50 -0500

On Wed, 30 Oct 1996, Eric J. Ray wrote:

> Gang,

> I've been doing some research into using procedural
> steps, as in:

> 1. Select some text.
> 2. Click the B button.
> 3. Do something else.

> I've been looking into several issues, but noticed
> that some commercial software manuals (as in the
> Dummies books, XXX Made Easy, ABCs of XXX,
> and similar series) often do not consistently
> or regularly number the steps.

> I've always assumed that each numbered step should
> reflect an action on the part of the reader. That is,
> if there are three things the reader must do,
> there should be three steps. I've found that many
> books present the information as
> 1. Select some text.
> 2. The text will appear highlighted on the screen.
> 3. Click the B button.
> 4. The text will be boldfaced.
> 5. Do something else.


I don't have the latest usability studies, but I use a combination of the
two methods above. I think it's important not to number non-steps, yet
sometimes further information is necessary to help the user. I also think
it's important to number steps so the user can see at a glance what the
process is. So, I do something like the following:

1. Select some text. The text will appear highlighted on the screen.
2. Click the B button. The text will be boldfaced.
3. Do something else.

Actually, I might set off the step from the explanation like so:

1. Select some text.
The text will appear highlighted on the screen.
2. Click the B button.
The text will be boldfaced.
3. Do something else.

That way, the steps stand out a bit more.

Ann Amsler
Information Resource Consultant
User Services, University of Delaware


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