Re: Procedural Steps

Subject: Re: Procedural Steps
From: "David E. Venzke" <dev -at- ENG -dot- AISINC -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 1996 09:59:53 EST

Eric posed the following:

> 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.

[snip, snip, snip]

> Do any of you know anything about the various schools of thought or
> usability tests that would support either of the second two
> examples? I personally REALLY object to the numbered non-steps, and
> think that the paragraph approach leaves a lot to be desired, but
> someone's blowing a lot of money on publishing these books --
> comments?

I can point to no "definitive source" for usability information, but
offer the following reason for why I think the one action per number
is the best approach when dealing with procedures:

Putting one action per number allows experienced users, who may need
to perform a procedure infrequently (six times in two years, maybe),
to quickly find the actual action steps that need to be carried out.
They can easily go to step 1, read the first sentence, and do what
it says. Skip to step 2, read the first sentence, and do what it
says. Carrying on in this manner, the procedural list becomes a type
of quick reference.

This also works for impatient, first-time users who just want to do
it, and don't care about the details.

Just one impatient "users" response,

David Venzke
David Venzke, Sr. Technical Writer email: dev -at- aisinc -dot- com
Applied Intelligent Systems, Inc. voice: (313) 332-7036
110 Parkland Plaza fax: (313) 332-7077
Ann Arbor MI 48103

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