Re: Disabled commands, tips on how to enable them.

On the surface this sounds like a good idea, but I think we should probe
the concept a bit deeper before we endorse it wholeheartedly. In a case
like the one described, where the step(s) the user needs to take to
activate a disabled command are few and simple, this suggestion (a
tooltip on the disabled command describing how to enable it) sounds both
useful and usable. 

But what about cases where the steps needed to enable a command are
complex, lengthy, many or otherwise confusing to a novice user? Perhaps
it would be better to provide a link to the appropriate place in online
help that explains in detail why the command is disabled and under what
context(s) the command is useful and usable.

I would like to see a more complete study of this idea, with examples
from several different types of applications and of varying levels of
complexity. The concept should be fairly easy to mock up in order to
conduct some low-cost usability studies. If the author(s) of the
proposal are serious about pursuing this idea, I hope they will provide
a more complete proposed specification, with research data to back up
the proposal.

..... . . .. . ... . .. .  .   . .  .  .    .    .     .       .  
Andrea Mankoski            HCI Designer                 Sun Microsystems
andi eng sun com 	                     Menlo Park, California  USA
650-786-6514                                      Building 17, Room 1130

Leonard Norrgard wrote:
> Greetings.
> Below is my $.02 contribution to usability improvement on GNOME (the
> text is copied from #usability, where I first put the suggestion
> forward).
> <vinsci> Well guys, here's a suggestion, but first the reasoning
> behind it.  Quite often when using a new application in any windowing
> system (I've used them for ~15 years now), I have come across the
> dreaded DISABLED COMMANDS in the menus and the like.  Never ever have
> I seen any hint as to what to do to enable the command - sometimes
> this is obvious (to an experienced user) much of the time it is not.
> What I would like to see is that whenever a command is disabled a hint
> of what to do to re-enable the command a little text would be appended
> to the tooltip (or whatever is appropriate) that said for example: "To
> enable the Paste command, you must first select and copy something."
> I think this is important enough that it should be made mandatory in
> the API for GNOME. It would definitely be a big improvement over that
> other Windowing system.
> <UnNamed> sounds very nice
> <UnNamed> mainly for the reason you say, people wonder why not
> avaliable
> <vinsci> Yes - and I've found myself in that situation a number of
> times. Since the appl code already knows the reason why a command is
> disabled it should be mostly straightforward work to add it to current
> apps.
> Best regards,
> -- vinsci
> --
> Leonard Norrgård <vinsci nic funet fi>
> _______________________________________________
> Usability mailing list
> Usability gnome org

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