Procedural Steps

Subject: Procedural Steps
From: "Dimock, Dick" <red -at- ELSEGUNDOCA -dot- NCR -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 5 Nov 1996 17:38:00 PST

Our Beloved Eric posted:

(Snip)
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.

with all kinds of numbered stuff that doesn't require
action.

(Snip)
I personally
REALLY object to the numbered non-steps,

Snip to end

***************************************
Eric, I've been here too. I have used both the paragraph
and the numbered steps. The numbered steps win out
in clarity. If you have a space crunch though, the paragraph
can save your day.

On numbering non-action events ---

I include the action and the result in one step:

1. Select some text.
The text will appear highlighted on the screen.

2. Click the B button.
The text will be boldfaced.

Where you get into difficulty is when you are describing
a series of screens and operator responses.

At first I was using the straight forward:

1. Press Enter to start the xxx configuration

2. The xxx configuration screen appears,
asking for your ID:

(Short screen shot)

3. Enter your ID


Then I decided to accentuate the ACTION steps
and de-emphasize the RESULT event:

1. Press Enter to start the xxx configuration
Screen.
The xxx configuration screen appears,
asking for your ID:
(Short screen shot)
______________________________

2 Enter your ID.
The Password question appears:
(maybe a shot)
____________________________

3. Enter your password.
The configuration menu comes up.
(shot)
_______________________________

4. Select 1 for the first step.
The Config. 1 screen displays.

ETCCC.

Users found this unwieldy. Did not like! I did not like
readers not like. What had I done wrong?

I had followed exactly the chronological sequence,
but in a mechanical, cause-effect sequence.
The chronology was followed, but the step
*boundaries* were not at the user's reality.

Readers wanted the "question" and "response"
together in the same step.

It asks Y/N?
I type Y.
End of step.

So the better layout is:

1. Press Enter to start the xxx configuration.
______________________________
2. The xxx configuration screen appears,
asking for your ID:
(Short screen shot)

Enter your ID.
_________________________________

3. The Password question appears:
(maybe a shot)

Enter your password.
__________________________
4. The configuration menu comes up.
(shot)

Select 1 for the first step.
_______________________________

5. The Config. 1 screen displays.
Looks like this

Do sumthin'
________________________

My (heh) usability research consisted of receiving
complaints, many of them. They were couched in
words like:

Confusing
I lost track
Not as clear as the other procedures

I corrected the chapter, and never heard another
word about it. Which is *my* verification that I done
good.

FWIW, Eric! I would be interested in other research
also.

Regards,

Dick Dimock Artfully Senior Tech Writer @

NCR Corp Where we are having fun selling
Data Warehousing to the World,
from itty bitty

El Segundo, CA The Town that Chevron Built.

red -at- elsegundoca -dot- ncr -dot- com
dickdimock -at- earthlink -dot- net


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