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CHI-WEB  October 2003, Week 4

CHI-WEB October 2003, Week 4

Subject:

SUMMARY: "Fold-out" Menu

From:

Jed Wood <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Jed Wood <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 27 Oct 2003 14:41:50 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (100 lines)

Thanks for all the comments regarding my prototype menu. I think I have
found a specific project that will most likely employ a menu system
similar to this prototype. If that project ever comes to fruition,
perhaps I'll post another follow-up.

Most of the replies I received fell into one of these categories:

1- A simple opinion.
I received all kinds of opinions, with more "likes" than "dislikes."

2- A short "and here's why."
Many people also included brief statements to back up their opinions.
Such as
- reminding me that there are issues of scale (menus can only drop down
so far, or go across so far).
- combining breadcrumbs with navigation ruins the purpose of a
breadcrumb
- it's nice the way the breadrumb doubles as navigation.
- it's not intuitive
- not good for global nav, but nifty for specific "drill-down"

3- "...but the sub-menus disappear":
Many folks thought they would like it better if the sub-menus stayed
visible at all levels. Leo Frishberg points out
http://www.phantomresearchfoundation.com/
This is similar to the way the sushi menu currently functions (see
http://www.sushi-x.net  and click on "Menu"). While it certainly seems
easier to navigate with all options viewable all the time, the intent
of the prototype in question is to reduce necessary screen real estate
and have the navigation feasibly exist on a screen where a large area
of content must be viewed.

OTHER COMMENTS:

-  Michael Crowther: "While people complain about drop-downs, because
your items require clicking, I don't see them as being as problematic
as Windows old Start menu navigation which required you to slide over
to the newly expanded list. This is where people would accidentally
slide off and have to retry."

- Anonymous: "Very nice implementation, except that you require Flash
for your navigation. People who don't have Flash, the incorrect version
of Flash, or have it turned off won't be able to navigate your site and
may not even know that it's missing. Plus, it's completely inaccessible
to search engines so you'll need to provide an HTML site map for them
to traverse."

Jed's response to that:  If someone can point me to a dynamic menu
system that "plays nicely" and is more compatible on more browsers and
platforms than Flash, I'm all ears. People that don't have Javascript
enabled, or are using an older browser can't access many DHTML menus-
two issues I don't have to worry about with Flash.  As for search
engines, there are a few ways to address the issue quite effectively.
For more info on any Flash Usability issues, please drop me a line.


- And finally, a long one from Francois Jordaan: "This site has been
using a similar menu system for quite some time now:
http://www.e-consultancy.com/
(Navigate a few levels deeper, e.g.
http://www.e-consultancy.com/forum/group-48-1-creative-usability.html )

It definitely seems an improvement on plain breadcrumbs, at least in
theory.
But it may be one of those things that you do "because you can", rather
than
because there's a clear need for it. While I use the above site fairly
often, I have to say I don't remember ever making use of it. (This is
just
my personal experience.) It might be simply habituation -- that's not
where
you would expect to go and look for alternative page choices.

There is another problem that I've read about dropdown menus in general
(I
wish I could remember the source) -- when users mouse to a menu option,
they've already thought about it, and decided to click on it. When a
submenu
then appears, they're forced to pause, and remake their decision. This
may
be just as disruptive as the click-wait-load effect you mention.

The other weakness of dynamic menus is their invisibility. While they
help
you *get to a place*, they don't help you *see where you can go*. But
there's always the trade-off with screen real estate. There's definitely
such a thing as too much navigation too.

########   end Francois Jordan comment

Thanks again,
-Jed

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