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The Importance Of Interface Text (part 2)
See examples of interface text for menus, windows, buttons, fields and application messages, and find out how to internationalize your application

| Brass Tacks |

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

The biggest function of titles - menu options as well as screens - is to bring to mind a particular task that the user needs to perform. And the terminology used should reflect the user's understanding of the task rather than the application's functions. The trick here is to question the users about their actions to perform particular tasks in order to develop appropriate verbiage. While the process flow for a particular task is usually available in your reference documents, asking questions gives you the everyday verbiage the users are familiar with.

Let's suppose, on questioning, an MIS manager tells you that to add a user to 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:

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

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

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

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

and so on.


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