Hypertext Development/Organization Query

Subject: Hypertext Development/Organization Query
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 1997 13:58:29 -0600

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I'm preparing a hypertext document about a product. I conceive it as
three chunks:
a tutorial chunk, organized by tasks
an extensive reference chunk, command by command,
with all the details
and a reference summary chunk that just gives the syntax
of each command.

They would be extensivly cross-linked, so that if you
look at the READ command in the summary, you have direct
links to the full reference material about the READ command
and to the tutorial about reading.

Likewise, in the tutorial about COMPUTE there would
be a link to the full reference material for the
ADD command, the SUBTRACT command, and so on.

Now comes the question...I conceive the "extensive reference"
section as encyclopedic (that is, alphabetically organized).
My manager prefers a more task-oriented grouping there AS WELL
as in the tutorial section.

I argue that readers using the reference section know what
they want to look up, and alphabetic organization makes
great sense. My fallback is, of course, that the reference
summary would naturally be alphabetical, and the reader COULD
gain access to the full reference for BABBLE by finding
BABBLE alphabetically in the summary and following the link.

Can anyone point to actual usability research results on
organizing Reference material by task vs alphabetically,
particularly in combination with tutorial material already
organized by task?


Eric J. Ray ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com
TECHWR-L Listowner http://www.raycomm.com/

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