By Mary Word
You have seen some of the important elements, such as commenting and naming. Ordering the elements in a page is also important. There are functional reasons to do this, of course. If you have six actions in a group and the third one tells the program to jump to another page, the last three will never be executed. Your interaction depends on a certain sequence of events and order is the basis of this.
There are organizational reasons to order your elements. If you always leave your car keys or your glasses in a certain spot, how long can it take you to find them if they are not where you expect? Use the same location in a lesson or on a page to place repeated elements. You won’t waste time looking for them if you reliably put them in the same place. I had several pages that used the denominator/numerator interactivity, so I could reuse the page setup several times once it worked correctly, and know where to go to customize it to the data on the page.
The sequence for the page I demoed starts with actions and action groups:
- Individual page actions
- Repeatable page and audio action groups
- Audio Events action groups
- Denominator/numerator action groups
- Simulation step action groups
These are followed by the content:
- Header, title, and closed caption (content is in logical reading order for accessibility, even though this particular page is bypassed if a screen reader is used and navigates to an accessible page with a text description of the interaction – still a good habit)
- Content groups (numbered to correlate with steps) and individual content items (also ordered as much as possible for reading order)
- Page controls (buttons and action groups, located immediately after content for accessibility)
By using a consistent ordering scheme on every page, you don’t have to go hunting for places to modify. I am using Lectora as my example, but this concept is the key. Apply it to your tools of choice. Start with page housekeeping. Initialize variables. Set visibility of objects. Set your page ID. Play your audio. Show your title and text. If you have all of this set up on a page, you can reuse that page over and over. Change out the content within the objects that are there. Delete what you don’t need for that page. Put the values you want in your variables. So much easier than starting from scratch every time.
I mentioned accessibility above. Have you ever listened to a screen reader? Try JAWS sometime. You can download a free version that runs for 40 minutes at a time. (Then you have to reboot.) Screen readers read the page in order, and they will skip over all those action groups that I showed at the top of the page. Those are not content or navigation. Your screen may look perfectly in order visually on the page— title at upper left, introductory paragraph and a few bullets, all in perfect sequence. But the visual order of items does not have to have any relation to the order of the elements in the Title Explorer. You could have bullet 3, intro paragraph, bullet 1, title, and so forth—and as long as they are not visually overlapping, the screen looks the same.
Imagine what a visually impaired person will hear in that case – a mix-up of disconnected bits of information, impossible to process correctly. If you have navigation elements in that mix, too, such as the next button or audio controls, it can be worse than useless.
These concepts translate to other programs and tools. If you can make this organizational style a habit, you will find you can apply it to all sorts of areas.
Next time: Practice practice practice (um)