Re: click to add

Subject: Re: click to add
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 1997 14:28:58 -0800

Bill Burns wrote:
(on the question of whether it's better to write "to do x, click y"
or "click y to do x")
>I agree with Geoff and other who've put the desired effect first. In
>addition to providing an advanced organizer and allowing the user a
>moment to prepare for the upcoming information, it also inhibits users
>from acting prematurely and doing something they don't want to do.[snip]
> I also prefer adding feedback comments following
> To do h, click j. V happens (appears, closes, opens, exits,
>quits, etc).

Seems to me we need to step back and look at the big picture.

If the entire procedure is introduced with an infinitive clause,
such as "To add a new user to the project database:", I'd think
that preparatory remarks for individual steps are redundant and
intrusive. I already know I want to perform the action from the
introductory clause before step one, so a step/result pattern is
all I need.

Click Users.
The User Info dialog opens.

Click Add.
The Add User dialog opens.

The only time I'd introduce decision points within the procedure
is if the instructions branch. For example, if the introduction
to the procedure was not "To add a new user...", but "To maintain
user information..." a branching step might be:

To edit information about an existing user, select
the user name, then click Edit.

To add a new user, click New.

My concern is that advertising the result of an action appears to
add a decision point where none exists and could cause confusion.

I do agree (well, OK, *strongly* agree) that all instructions
should be "right branching" / "forward moving" /whatever term
you prefer to indicate that instructions should be written in
the order in which they're performed. So, certainly, if one
must introduce a mid-procedure decision point, the decision
should be presented and made before the action continues.

Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com
-- The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate.

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