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Brass Tacks - Practices

In this concluding article, read about the specific things to bekept in mind when creating interface text for menus, windows, buttons,fields and application messages, and also find out how to design interfacetext for easy internationalization of your application.

  1. The Importance Of Interface Text (part 2)
  2. Brass Tacks
  3. The Screening Process
  4. Playing The Field
  5. When Things Go Bad...
  6. Offering Instruction
  7. Better Safe Than Sorry
  8. Globe-trotting
By: Deepa L, (c) Melonfire
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 3
March 26, 2003

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With the generics out of the way, let's now get a little deeper into thedetails. Over the next few pages, I'll be getting into the specificcharacteristics of menus, windows, fields, buttons and error andconfirmation messages.

The biggest function of titles - menu options as well as screens - is tobring to mind a particular task that the user needs to perform. And theterminology used should reflect the user's understanding of the task ratherthan the application's functions. The trick here is to question the usersabout their actions to perform particular tasks in order to developappropriate verbiage. While the process flow for a particular task isusually available in your reference documents, asking questions gives youthe everyday verbiage the users are familiar with.

Let's suppose, on questioning, an MIS manager tells you that to add a userto the network, he
- creates the user ID and password
- sets the size of the mailbox
- sets the backup options
- sets file server access permissions
- sets Internet access permissions
- sets up the user's mail client

Therefore, the menu items could be:

|-- User ID
|-- Mailbox
|-- Backup
|-- File Server Access
|-- Internet Access

Thus, the user's description of the tasks will provide you with all thenecessary verbiage for the menus.

At this point you have identified the general areas in which the user willperform the requisite tasks - but your menu is still to reflect the actualtasks. The essential thing now is to ensure that the lowest level of yourmenu item is titled as a verb, indicating directly the task that the userneeds to perform. Here's what the revised tree would look like:

|-- User ID
| |-- Add User ID
| |-- Edit User ID
|-- Mailbox
| |-- Add mailbox
| |-- Edit mailbox
|-- Backup
| |-- Add backup task
| |-- Edit backup task

and so on.

>>> More Practices Articles          >>> More By Deepa L, (c) Melonfire

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