Menus and Form Fill In
Effective use of menus depends on semantic organization, , menu-system
structure, number and sequence of menu items, display rates, response time,
short-cuts for frequent users, on line help and selection methods.
Menus should be organised in some way that reflects the meanings of the
The main menu types are
- Single menus
- Menus offering a single choice.
- Linear sequences
- Guide users through a sequence of choices, always in the same order and
regardless of the chices made by the user.
- Tree structured menus
- The sequence of menus depends on the choices made by the user.
It has a tree structure which allows only one way to reach each menu.
- Acyclic Networks
- Some or all menus in the tree may be reachable by more than one sequence
- Cyclic network
- Special traversals may allow the user to jump around the menu tree.
Generally the later structures in this list are kmore complicated for users
- In a single menu the user should know what to expect as a result of each
- Radio buttons are often used for single menus in GUIs.
- Menus can be permanent or pop-up.
- Check boxes can be used for multiple choices.
- With high resolution graphics it is often possible to incorporate
a linear menu sequence in a single dialog.
- Careful classification is required when creating tree structured menus
- There is a breadth depth tradeoff in tree based menu structures.
- When grouping
- Create groups of logically similar items
- Form groups that cover all the possiblities
- Make sure that items are non-overlappping,
- Use familiar terminology
- For complex menu systems menu maps can help users.
- Typeahead is important for experienced users
when response is slow. Voice mail gives an
example of this.
Naming Choose names carefully. Where a selection invokes another menu
use the selection as the title of the invoked menu.
Use familiar and consistent terminology. While numbers are usually better for
making selections (in text interfaces) this causes problems when items like
"RETURN TO MAIN MENU" get a different number in sucessive menus.
Mnemonic letters help if one it to have type ahead.
Movement of a highligt bar is also possible.
Mouse selection is the preferred mode for GUIs. Note that walking menus
(these are the ones where you move the mouse to the right to get a submenu)
can be difficult to use for some users.
Embedded Menus are found in the Web interface and other hypertex
interfaces. Lynx is an interesting example where a text based interface is
provided for the web. It permits the user to select whether they want to move
the cursor or select by number. A great strength of embedded menus is that
they make the provision of context for each choice natural.
Form Fillin Design Guidelines
- Meaningful title
- Comprehensible Instructions
- Logical grouping and sequencing of fields
- Visually appealing layout of the form
- Familiar filed labels
- Consistent terminology and abbreviations
- Visible space and boundaries for data fields
- Convenient Cursor Movemement
- Error corrections for individual characters and fields
- Error messages for unacceptable values
- Optional fields marked clearly
- Explanatory messages for fields
Many database packages provide fom fillin creation tools, since this is a
convenient way to prvide for data entry.
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