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HomePatterns > How to organize step-by-step procedures                           



The title is a menu item

Intros are optional

Put instructions into discrete steps

Organize explanations to follow the train of thought

Full model of a procedure

A group of procedures can be a reusable object

Build a process out of a sequence of procedures

Build a set of processes

Let users move down the scale of action

Articulate the strategic decision

How to organize step-by-step procedures

On a Web site, many of the most important questions begin, "How do I?"

We respond with the genre known as a procedure.

These step-by-step instructions are the most important part of an FAQ, a Help system, or a set of documentation, because each step promises to take the users closer to their goal.

To support the individual steps, writers have, over time, come up with many other components for a procedure, each of which answers a related or follow-up question.

Looked at from a high level, the architecture of a generic procedure has four parts:

  1. What task does this procedure help me do? Name

  2. What should I know before I start? Introduction

  3. What do I do now? Step

  4. Can you explain that? Explanation



Probe your audiences--gently.

Help (A chapter from Hot Text: Web Writing that Works. PDF: 995K, or about 18 minutes at 56K).



So what was step 56?


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