This post continues the discussion of the "All Systems Go" article from the August 2016 issue of TD magazine and how it relates to planning online learning for software customers.
One of the sidebars to the articles brings up an issue worth exploring. The sidebar is titled "Click or Select? Creating a Style Guide for Software Training." It discusses three categories of items to include in a style guide for maintaining a consistent approach in your software training.
The first category is verbs. It doesn't matter whether you use "click" or "select" (in most cases) -- just pick one. You are giving the user cues that will make their learning experience more streamlined. For the record, my preference is usually "select," unless you end up selecting the Select key.
The second category is features. When you talk about your software, do you refer to a drop-down menu or a pull-down menu? Again, the wording (including hyphenation and capitalization) you use is not necessarily that important. It is just important that you make a decision about each item and stick with it.
The final category in this discussion is formatting. This is where you decide to bold the key names and italicize the screen names (my usual preference) or however you are going to handle the specific items that the user interacts with for your particular software.
A good writer and designer knows that the most important thing to remember is to make your content easy to understand. Being consistent is an important way to do that.
These decisions apply for your style guide and ultimately your user-focused content, whether it is a user guide, online help, software "show me" videos or instructional interactivity that really teaches the user a new skill.