A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Designing Wizards  (link broken)

prompting them only when they must make a decision. A wizard involves a structured series of dialogues that applies users’ responses to produce a result, such as installing software or writing a business letter. It is different from a tutorial and other online information in that it helps users accomplish a task, not teaches them how to do it. A wizard is a performance support tool; that is, it supports users as they perform a task. Because the system performs some of the work, it can seemingly bring a user to a higher performance level in less time than conventional training methods. But the cost can be a dumbing down of tasks. Users perform tasks without understanding them and aren’t aware of the underlying decisions. As a result, users may not be able to perform tasks if the system is down. You should use a wizard to build performance only when people can perform a task without knowing all of the steps.

Carliner, Saul. Saul Carliner Studio (2003). Design>User Interface>Wizards


Wizards   (PDF)

Allen describes the uses, benefits, and drawbacks of 'wizards'--utilities that help users perform particular tasks.

Allen, Kristen. Intercom (2000). Design>User Interface>Wizards


Wizards Versus Forms

When I find myself designing an application that is complex, either in terms of its length or its logical dependencies, my natural instinct is to take a wizard approach. Wizards are cool; forms are dull. Product managers love wizards because they are so Web 2.0. Developers like wizards because they involve more programming expertise than just cranking out forms. But even when dealing with complexity, wizards are not the slam-dunk answer for creating an optimal user-interface design solution. Breaking up a task into smaller steps does not always provide a better user experience.

Hughes, Michael A. UXmatters (2011). Articles>Web Design>Wizards>Forms

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