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Jose Arcellana <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Jose Arcellana <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 8 Nov 1999 16:16:34 -0800
text/plain (105 lines)
In general, I think having a "selection model" -- a way to indicate what you
want acted upon with a command -- is a good thing, and the lack of one on
many web sites derives more from the difficulties of implementing an
efficient selection mechanism (that is, one that doesn't require having to
load another page) than any inherent advantage in not having a selection
model. If the web could have its druthers, I'm pretty sure it'd be emulating
more the selection model used on personal-computer operating systems --
which is basically we websters try to do with DHTML, Javascript, image
swapping, and so on.

Another thing to consider (in addition to the number of possible actions on
a selection) is the number of items in the universe of possible selections.
The more you have, the more times you'll have to make the button(s)
available. Having more than three or four of either gets old pretty quickly.

One implementation of a selection model on the web that sorta kinda works
for me is the column of checkboxes next to a list of selectable items. You
click the checkbox, then you click a button either above or below the list.
It's filling in a form to select an object and choose a command. Not great,
but you were expecting contextual menus?

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Scott Berkun [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Sunday 07 November 1999 21.25
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Multiple Controls?
> great question - I wish more posts were as clearly stated as
> this. Here's
> some opinion.
> The most significant tradeoff here is the existence of a
> selection model.
> This goes beyond what you mention about separate pieces of
> UI. The advantage
> of multiple buttons per object is the lack of a selection
> model - the user
> never has to specify the object to apply the command to - it's always
> implied. Dealing with selection is difficult, as witnessed by
> the difficulty
> of file management in GUIs: you can't hit file.rename until
> you have first
> selected a specific file. As you point out, multiple commands
> per object
> does force clutter, especially if there are more than 3 or 4
> commands for
> each object, but it does require a lot less work for the
> user. This kind of
> well contained clutter seems to annoy designers more than users.
> Once you get beyond 3 or 4 commands, things get unwieldy. I've seen
> dropdowns next to items that list the commands that can be
> applied to it -
> it feels awful. I think there is a breaking point - if the
> users tasks are
> so complex that they need more than 3 commands, it's worth it
> for them to
> learn some model of selection. If the tasks are simple enough
> (and we should
> strive for simple pages), then a couple of commands per
> object is tolerable.
> -Scott
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kayla Block [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Friday, November 05, 1999 4:20 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Multiple Controls?
> I have tended to think that having a list of items with the
> same button
> next to each item is not good design. Yet this seems to be ubiquitous.
> (For example, almost every online address book has buttons
> next to every
> entry for "delete" and buttons next to every entry for "edit").
> I'd be interested in both research and opinions regarding
> advantages and
> disadvantages to having one set of controls for an entire
> list of items
> vs. having duplicated controls next to each list item.
> Advantages of multiple buttons next to each item:
> 1) Item is obviously spatially related to the controls. Don't have to
> track back and forth between 2 separate pieces of UI.
> 2) Mouse clicks to use those buttons on item are closer to the item
> being effected.
> Disadvantages of multiple buttons:
> 1) clutter
> 2) visual confusion
> 3) not as aesthetically appealing
> Additional thoughts are
> welcome.******************************************
> Kayla Block
> Manager, Documentation and User Interface