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Better Safe Than Sorry - 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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Confirmation messages are displayed after modifications have been madeto the system by the user. The aim of these messages is to inform the userof the impact of the action and elicit a "yes" or "no" response for furtherprocessing.

A common irritant here is messages asking you to confirm what you've justdone - without a reason for asking it. For example, if your intranetapplication allows the administrator to delete a folder off the fileserver, a confirmation message asking the question: "Are you sure you wantto delete the Accounts folder?" will only make the user feel that you doubthis or her intelligence. A better option would be: "Deleting the Accountsfolder will also delete all the files within it. Do you wish to continue?"

In some cases, it is more appropriate to show a message after an action hasbeen performed. This is especially true if the user's action triggers offan internal event within the application. For example, suppose youradministrative application stores users in separate "data files" based onwhether they are confirmed employees or not; these appear to the user astwo separate categories, "Probationers" and "Employees". On the basis ofcertain criteria, the system turns a probationer into an employee and movesthe corresponding data to the "Employee" data file. Let's assume that onesuch criterion is the achievement of a Grade A for performance. When theadministrator enters this grade into the application and submits it, apost-submission message could be: "Wella Cruz has been updated to Employeestatus. In future, please access the Employee menu for her data."

As a parting shot, ensure that your confirmation questions elicit a directanswer. The following is the best example of what it should *not* be: "Youhave changed the mail server settings. Would you like to discard changes?"

In this case, the user would need to select "No" to save the changesmade...completely non-intuitive and quite illogical.

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

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