Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Unexamined software idioms #2: Styling text

Interesting; Jon Udell: Unexamined software idioms #1: Linking in rich text editors

Another example came to me in the shower; styling text. I think this may be an even simpler example of what I think John is talking about.

When writing, and you wish to emphasize a part of your text, with the computer you have a silly backwards approach;
  1. select the text
  2. press the style button (say underline)
I'd like to propose that this is actually backwards, and what people would find more natural is to do the actions in the opposite order;
  1. press the style button
  2. style the text.
To me at least, this seems a lot more natural. Sort of like using a highlighters, or adding an underline to a passage while writing with pen. It may also explain why the 'Format painter' button is such a revelation when found by users of Microsoft Word.

Update:
Lotus Notes "Permanent Pen" and Highlighter might be worth a look.

Update:
  • small change to beginning and links
  • unexamined-software-interaction-idioms or unexamined-hci-idioms might be better tags.
  • typo.