Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
Simpler UI mock-ups
Instructional designers sometimes find themselves in a position to influence a software product while it is under development. (Ideally, this happens on a regular basis.) When you believe that you have a concrete suggestion for improving an interaction, nothing beats being able to construct a mock-up of the change your suggesting.
If you’re a Windows user, something like Mockup Screens can greatly simplify your task. One of its most interesting features is that it creates “sketches” of the user interface. That is, there’s no attempt to make the mock-ups look like the real interface. The reason is simple, to paraphrase from the product’s website and my own experience, if you show a prototype that looks too much like a real application people will focus on the areas where it’s not exactly right—such as alignments or conventions—instead of the idea you’re trying to convey. Presenting a professional, but clearly non-working, model helps avoids these distractions.