Menus, Forms, and Dialog Boxes Overview. Menus and forms considered "attractive alternatives" to DM. Why?

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low mental load (recognition, not recall) attractive to novice or intermittent users

Their use does not guarantee appealing and easy to use UI! Shneiderman definitions:
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Menu: any selection from list. Quite a broad definition. Form fillin : collection of data entry fields (paper form as metaphor) Dialog box : device to organize menus and forms The World of Menus How many kinds can you name, based on Shneiderman definition? (pulldown, popup, check box, command buttons, radio buttons, www links, toolbar, palette, . . .). A tour through MacWrite and Word 97 revealed a large number of techniques.

Organize for Task Support M,F,and DB should be designed and organized to support user tasks. Some menu organizations include: 1. single menu: two or more items simultaneously available.
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There are semantic variations (e.g. single vs multiple item selection, state vs. command). There are many different styles (buttons, radio buttons, icons, numbered list, scrolling list, toolbars, palettes, embedded links in web page)

2. linear sequences and multiple menus: guided sequence of choices (such as Wizard)
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Guides user through complex decision making by presenting one decision at a time. Possible alternative to dialog box.

3. tree-structured menus: requires classification into mutually-exclusive categories

Provide orienting information (distance from main. o user knowing what name to look for Breadth (number of items per list) is preferred to depth (number of levels) -tradeoff.      such classification may not be feasible (do not use in that case) uses abstraction to handle large numbers of choices selection speed depends on: o logical organization (grouping.surprises the user. acyclic and cyclic menu networks:    use if appropriate. Depends on what items represent. Menu Layout Menu Item Sequence:     Some possibilities include: o chronological ordering o numeric ordering (ascending or descending) o alphabetical order o usage frequency order (most frequent first) o importance order (most important first) o subgroups of functionally related items (separate by space/line) One cannot categorically say that one of these is better than another. let user determine when to update order! . breadth vs depth) o terminology (get from task domain). If ordering by frequency. beware that disorientation occurs more easily than with tree. Many empirical studies confirm this. Each layer of depth increases chances for disorientation and error (offset with menu map) In designing groupings. user familiarity with items and task All studies show that dynamically adaptive ordering is no good -. follow these guidelines: o create groups of logically related items o make sure groups cover all possibilities (leave no gaps) o make sure items do not overlap o use domain terminology o each item has distinctly different label 4. position in network).

Give form a meaningful title Group related fields Separate groups with space. . consistency!! Menu Fast Select and Response time     Fast select through: o Shortcut keystrokes and key combinations o Bookmarks o Macro facility to record menu selection paths (hierarchical) Response time is how long for system to respond to menu selection.Menu Item Names:      terminology should be familiar to expected user audience terminology should be consistent across items names and phrases should be clearly distinct from each other if phrase. Existed long before bitmapped displays and DM. 6. 3. Here are some Shneiderman guidelines for designing such a form. Attractive due to metaphor: paper form. 2. Uniformly distribute and align fields/groups on form.or center-justified Menu tems should be left-justified Consistency. Can affect menu organization : o longer response time should lead to fewer levels of menus This had all but disappeared as an issue until the Web! Form Fillin    For entering several items or groups of related items concurrently. 5. When instructing user to type normal characters. place keyword first (leftmost) item phrases should be concise Other layout guidelines:    Menu titles should be left. 1. consistency."). use "type". 7. Match screen form layout to paper form (if data entry from paper) Use concise instructions in command form ("Type the address. 4.

Use concise error messages in familiar terms 15. color.g. Alternatively. list selection) 13. Word 97 Font specification. which are not addressed here. 9. provide explanation in standard place. Explicit completion signal (e. supply dashes and skip forward automatically) 18. to quite complex (e. 10.g. 16.8. Submit or OK button) There are many more guidelines. Mark optional fields and place them at end if appropriate 19. Use the word "enter" only to refer to Enter key. Use coded fields as appropriate (e. dialog boxes are used to invoke a subdialog between user and system for a very specific task that will normally be embedded within some larger task." Some guidelines for designing menus also apply to dialog boxes.. possibly an error or a warning used to prevent a possible error. multiscreen. Allow easy error correction 14. Prevent input errors (through e. 17. concerning use of graphics. etc. for ss#. use "press". Use familiar and consistent terminology for field labels. Direct quote from Dix et al: "Dialog boxes are information windows used by the system to bring the user's attention to some important information. When cursor is on field. or Open dialog). Show error messages only after erroneous field value complete. Shneiderman relates dialog boxes to menus and forms: "Dialog box design combines menu-selection and form-fillin issues with additional concerns about consistency across hundreds of dialog boxes and relationship with other items on the screen.g. Allow easy movement between fields (tab." Dialog boxes range from very simple (click OK in response to message). 11. arrows) 12.g. When instructing user to type control keys. Dialog Boxes What is the difference between a form and a dialog box? According to Dix. et al :   forms used primarily for data entry dialog boxes primarily for system messages and subdialogs. .

Box should be clearly distinguishable from background Box should not be too visually annoying or disruptive Use standard buttons (OK. . Box should be moveable Box should be as small as possible without being cramped. Dialog boxes pop up in front of other UI info. so:       Box should appear close to relevant information without obscuring it. Cancel. etc) to lessen mental burden.Most guidelines for designing form fillin also apply to dialog boxes.

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