A wizard is a simplified, sequential control for guiding users through a complex task. Wizards guide users through a sequence of steps, offering more direction along the way than does traditional UI.
A wizard control consists of a series of pages, each of which helps the user perform a step in the overall task. (For example, specifying a path to a driver might be one step in the overall task of connecting a printer.) Most pages in a wizard contain controls that gather input from the user. When the wizard finishes, the task is complete.
Figure 1 A wizard control page.
Wizards can be used when users are performing a single task composed of a linear sequence of steps (such as installation or configuration). However, wizards are especially useful when:
- Users can take different paths to complete a task. The wizard pages can “fork” depending on choices users make.
The same philosophy applies when users have the option of skipping certain wizard pages, thereby accepting the default settings on those pages. This is particularly appropriate for wizards that use the orientation pane.
- Tasks are infrequently performed or have a limited audience (such as very basic or advanced tasks).
- Steps are of such complexity that more space for explanation is required than other surfaces would allow.
Visual Presentation of the MMC 3.0 Wizard
New wizards created for the MMC 3.0 framework should have the following style, which resembles the Visual Studio wizard.
Figure 2 UI components of the wizard with the orientation pane enabled.
- Put a Close button on every wizard page title bar.
- Do not activate the ? Help button for use with Help topics; MMC still uses the ? button for context-sensitive Help only.
- The banner contains the page title (maximum one line in English) and an icon. The wizard framework will provide the wraparound line space, if additional space is required by Localization.
- The icon is 64 × 64 pixels, 24-bit. It can change from page to page, or it can be static throughout the wizard.
- The page title should be different on every page of the wizard.
- The positions of the icon and the page title should be justified and vertically centered, as shown above.
- Each wizard page contains a content pane, which displays the page text and controls. The layout and content of the content pane is determined by the wizard author.
Navigation button bar
- The navigation button bar should be right- and bottom-justified, as shown.
- The number (four) and order of the buttons cannot be changed.
- The button text is modifiable only on the Next and the Finish buttons; for example, the label on the Finish button can be changed to Close.
- If clicking Finish initiates a command action and moves the user to another page, the text on the button should be changed to an action verb (for example: Install).
- Labels should be command verbs.
- Use a verb + noun combination only when there might be some confusion as to the object being acted upon.
- Any verb + noun combination should be a maximum of 16 characters, including the space.
- Buttons can be disabled, but they cannot be hidden.
- The Cancel button cannot be disabled, except on the Completion page.
Orientation pane (optional)
A new wizard element, the orientation pane, allows users to see the number of steps (or pages) required to accomplish the task and where they are in the process of completing the task. Additionally, if you present the task steps as links that equate to the pages in a nonlinear wizard (one in which the wizard doesn’t require the pages to be filled out in a certain order), the user can “jump” ahead or back without using the navigation bar buttons to walk through all the steps consecutively.
Progress pages (optional)
Some wizards have potentially lengthy actions performed during, or at the end of, the wizard. If so, it is desirable to give users some sense of how long the process will take, or at least to give them feedback that the operation they wanted performed is still running and that no exceptional conditions (such as hangs, crashes, and timeouts) have occurred.
Display a confirmation page at any point when the user has made selections that should be verified before proceeding. A confirmation page provides a list of each selection made by the user.
If settings are to be applied at earlier stages in the wizard, use a milestone page to confirm the settings before the user continues. A milestone page is synonymous with a confirmation page that appears before settings are applied.
Typically, it is best to use a confirmation page under circumstances where users may not actually remember, or be aware of, all of the settings they have selected while running the wizard. A confirmation page is unnecessary in shorter wizards and it can be irritating under many circumstances.
The default button on a confirmation page is Close.
Closing pages (optional)
There are two major types of closing pages: summary pages and What's Next pages. However, a closing page is not required in wizards of two or three pages.
The closing page always has to show the result of the wizard.
- Summary pages. Summary pages represent the Windows '97 “Completing the <Wizard Name>” pages. Use a summary page to tell the user whether the wizard finished successfully and what changes were made.
- Typically, it is best to use a summary page under circumstances where the users might not actually remember all the settings they have selected while running the wizard or where they should be reminded of any irreversible changes they elected to make.
- Use a summary page when the wizard has completed its task.
- The default command button on the summary page is Finish.
- What’s Next pages. This type of closing page tells users what will happen when they click the Finish button. A What's Next page also allows users to go back and modify any non-irreversible choices they made in the wizard if they want.
- Generally, use a What's Next page when the wizard will complete its tasks upon closing.
- If a What's Next Help topic on using or customizing the output of the wizard exists, the What's Next page should have a check box that the user can select to open the Help topic when the wizard closes.
- The Finish button is the default button on this page.
Some wizards might cause effects that cannot or should not be undone. In such cases, you should provide a configurable cancellation dialog box that alerts the user to irreversible actions.