Customising verbage (& interfaces)

8 Sep 2004 - 7:34am
702 reads
Michael Bartlett

Just come out of an meeting where we were giving one of our clients a sneak
peak at an up-coming release of our software.

This client is very user-centric and managed to talk themselves round in
circles about the requirements of their users. For example we have a
particular dialog box that they told us they wanted the buttons to say
something different to what a lot of our other customers have been telling

They asked if they could perhaps have some sort of label editor to change
the verbage on the dialogs to suit their requirements. This is obviously
quite a large engineering overhead to have to externalise all language
resources into some sort of XML language library. One thing we do often find
is terminology we use on our English clients is not always well understood
by our friends on the other side of the Atlantic. What are your thoughts on
allowing such customisation of labels and descriptions? Is it worth the
investment of having to maintain a more demanding engineering overhead?

Another interesting example was they felt that a certain dialog (which you
can just press OK if you don't want to change anything) was unncessary. They
then negated that by saying something along the lines of "oh, but our more
advanced users would want to see this dialog". So one thing I could do is
have a "Don't show me this again" checkbox on dialogs such as these. But
what happens when a novice user, through extended use, becomes a more
experienced user and they want that dialog back - yet they are not advanced
enough to go through an options/configuration process to bring something

I guess what I'm looking for here is experiences when dealing with
options/dialogs that are occassionally used either due to level of user
advancement or purely through edge-case usage scenarios. I always feel that
a "Novice/Advanced" interface is a failure to accommodate a user-base of
varying skill level, but there are certainly occasions where it has its
merits! ARGH.


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