Re: Self Documenting Interfaces

>> >A somewhat well-known principle is that you see and forget, you hear and
>> >remember and you do and understand.
>> A better known principal is documentation makes no sense.
>> I can come up with any number of people who believe this :-)
>There is a difference between these two principles. The first has its
>foundation in cognitive psychology and the other in shoddy documentation.

Shoddy documentation?  I think it's *directly attributable* to cognitive
psychology the fact that it's extraordinarily difficult to deduce operating
procedures from reading material.  If it's very very very hard to write good
docs, that means it's very very very hard to understand documentation.

The human mind is excellent at picturing dramatic scenes--we have the
imagination construct which does all the work.  There isn't as powerful of a
mental construct powering the documentation decoding regions.  Therefore, we
don't remember as many steps or as many details.

>Just because most documentation is bad doesn't mean that the concept is.

Yes it does.  Most bad novels are still readable :-)

>> Anyway, for documentation purposes, what you see and do, you remember.

>I would like to add some form of explanation to the seeing and doing.

Well, yes.  That's why I've been suggesting text(and, to a lesser extent,
audio) descriptions to accompany.

>> you only hear and do, you totally screw up.  What you see and hear, you
>> remember even better.  What you read and do, you hunt around trying to
>> the button the documentation says to push.

>I never said that the tour should be made out as a written document from
>which you follow certain steps. It should be a _guided_ tour, that is the
>user should be guided actively through the exercise. The "guide" (which by
>no means should act real, like the infamous paper clip) should take the
>user through the requiered steps and explain them, one by one.

Well, if you have a VERY intelligent help wizard, it could actually help you
using the given UI on the given material.  Unfortunately, that's beyond
present technology.  Even Microsoft flubs the UI to help out with the given
material.  Unfortunately, this makes the user dependant upon the wizard,
which is notoriously inefficient.  Thus, given the choice between right UI,
wrong data, and wrong UI, right data, I choose the former, not the latter.

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