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The effect of advice message location on user performance

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3 Author(s)
McLellan, S.G. ; Schlumberger Eng. Centre, Austin, TX, USA ; Roesler, A.W. ; Elliot, A.L.

In 1993, a study began with a large commercial oil and gas software interpretation system to determine the feasibility of a general taxonomy of on-line help content and a corresponding taxonomy of human interface access methods to this content. The preliminary findings from this work were encouraging and indicate that a taxonomic approach makes it easy both for help providers to understand what information they need to supply, and for help users to find the help they need quickly. Part of this taxonomy of help content includes application messaging. Existing studies of on-line help messaging indicate that both user-initiated or system-initiated advice messaging can improve user efficiency by prompting users with information about what something on the interface is, what it does, or what to do once it has been activated. This study examines the placement of on-line help messages in a multiwindow software application on user performance. Subjects were automatically timed as they performed two sets of tasks: one where help messages always appeared at the bottom of an application's main window and one where help messages appeared at the bottom of the current window in focus

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Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:39 ,  Issue: 1 )