CS252. User Interface Design

Lecture Outline for Feb. 2
Designing Menus

1.   Why Menus Are Important
    Conceptual model: functional model presented by a software system

    Goal for interface design:  devise conceptual model that helps user build mental model that is
            (1) accurate
            (2) efficient to learn/expand
            (3) efficient in use
    Menus are the primary way that users learn to understand the organization of an interface

    Menus embody the principal of interfaces based on "recognition rather than recall"


    That's why "menus"is included in WIMP as name for style of interfaces
        (windows/icons/menus/pointer   or sometimes windows/icons/mouse/pull-down menus)
    But menus can be confusing and hard to learn (elicit examples of problems)
        Each menu is viewed in isolation

        Experienced users find menus tedious

 2.  Components of a Menu 
    Menu name:

    Menu items: 


    Access key: (mnemonic key) 

    Shortcut key: (accelerator key) 

    Other features seen on menus:

    Basic menu access mechanism

    Reflecting changes in option availability

    Other GUI platforms (non MS windows) use different appearance/mechanisms

  3.     Ordering Items in Menus 
    Since menus are so important in presenting the conceptual model to the user, need to be concerned about
        what the menu structure says about software organization
    Menu structure should map well to user's task structure

    Menu items should have names that are simple, unambiguous, consistent, and compatible

    Also need to be concerned about the ordering of items in menus
    Group items together logically 

    Order items

    Don't use alphabetical ordering unless you must have a long list of items people are used to seeing in alpha
        order (e.g., state names)   usually, this would be better as a scrolled list anyway

  4.     Organizing Menus 
    Structuring the number of menus and levels of nesting

    Menu breadth:

    Menu depth: 

    Advantages of greater breadth and less depth:

    Advantages of greater depth and less breadth:

    How menu organization is studied   classic study by Kiger [1984]
        Grouped 64 menu items in different tree structures

    General guidelines   see Web for details
        Group logically if at all possible (mimicking user task structure)
        If not in smaller logical groups, keep menus to less than 10 items

  5.     Types of Menus 
    Pull-down menu:

    Pop-up menu:

    Tear-off menu:

    Cascading menu:

    Scrolling menu:

    Option menu:

    Toolbars and value controls can also be considered as menus

    Macintosh and OSF/Motif support all forms; MS Windows only supports pull-down, pop-up, and cascading