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Graphical Systems: Advantages

1. Symbols recognized faster than text.

o Icons are very useful for quickly classifying objects, elements, or
text by some common property. Example: Icons used in
2. Faster learning.
o Research has also found that a graphical, pictorial representation
aids learning, and symbols can also be easily learned.
3. Faster use and problem solving.
o Visual or spatial representation of information is easy to
remember and manipulate.
4. More natural
o closer to innate human capabilities
o human mind has a powerful image memory.
5. Fewer errors.
o concrete thinking
o Reversibility of actions
6. Immediate feedback.
o results of actions can be seen immediately
o direction can be changed quickly
o visual or auditory feedback
7. Increased feeling of control.
o The user initiates actions and feels in control. This increases user
confidence and hastens system mastery

Graphical Systems: Disadvantages

Greater design complexity.

o Many choices for controls and basic alternatives
o unending alternatives for colors
o skill of the designer is challenged
Learning still necessary
o meanings of many symbols and icons may not be clear to users
o learn how to use a pointing device
Inconsistencies in technique and terminology
o differences in technique exist among various graphical system
and even among successive versions of the same system
o learning and relearning, for both designers and users is much
more difficult

Not always familiar.

o Symbolic representations may not be as familiar as words or
o Research has found that numeric symbols elicit faster responses
than graphic symbols in a visual search task
Inefficient for touch typists.
o For an experienced touch typist, the keyboard is a very fast and
powerful device. Moving a mouse or some other pointing
mechanism may be slower.
Inefficient for expert users.
o Will slow down expert users
o Too many objects on the screen
o GUI does not give direct access to system functions like the
command language

Develop System Menus

and Navigation Schemes
What is menu?
Listings of choices are commonly called menus and are a major form of
navigation through a system. Menus are effective because they utilize
the more powerful human capability of recognition rather than the
weaker capability of recall.
Single Menus
In this simplest form of menu, a single screen or window is presented
to seek the users input or request an action to be performed. Single
menus conceptually require choices from this single menu only, and no
other menus will follow necessitating additional user choices.
Sequential Linear Menus
Sequential linear menus are presented on a series of screens
possessing only one path. The menu screens are presented in a preset
order, and, generally, their objective is for specifying parameters or for
entering data. All the menus are important to the process at hand and
must be answered in some manner by the user.
Sequential path menus have several shortcomings. A long sequence
may become tedious as menu after menu is presented. A long

sequence may become tedious as menu after menu is presented. The

user may also want to return to a previous menu to change an answer
or look at an answer. The user may, conceptually, want to complete
the menus in a different order than that in which they are being
Simultaneous Menus
Instead of being presented on separate screens, all menu options are
available simultaneously. The menu may be completed in the order
desired by the user, choices being skipped and returned to later. All
alternatives are visible for reminding of choices, comparing choices,
and changing answers. The tedium associated with a long series of
sequential menus is greatly reduced.
Problems with simultaneous menus are that for large collections of
menu alternatives screen clutter can easily occur, and screen paging or
scrolling may still be necessary to view all the choices. Presenting
many menu dependencies and relationships on a screen, especially if
poorly indicated, can also be very confusing for a novice user.
Hierarchical or Sequential Menus
When many relationships exist between menu alternatives, and some
menu options are only appropriate depending upon a previous menu
selection, a hierarchical structure is the best solution. In Web site
design, hierarchical menus are often referred to as sequential menus.
Example, from options, to suboptions, from categories to
subcategories, from pages to sections to subsections, and so on.
A disadvantage of a hierarchical scheme is that the defined branching
order may not fit the users conception of the task flow. If users are not
familiar with the hierarchical menu, or are unable to predict what
suboptions lie below a particular choice, they may go down wrong
paths and find it necessary to go back up the tree to change a choice,
or perhaps even return to the top-level menu.
Connected Menus
Connected menus are networks of menus all interconnected in some
manner. Movement through a structure of menus is not restricted to a
hierarchical tree, but is permitted between most or all menus in the
The biggest advantage of a connected menu network is that it gives
the user full control over the navigation flow. Its disadvantage is its
complexity, and its navigation may be daunting for an inexperienced
Event-Trapping Menus

Event-trapping menus provide an ever-present background of control

over the systems state and parameters while the user is working on a
foreground task. They are, in essence, a set of simultaneous menus
imposed on hierarchical menus. In a graphical system, for example,
existing together are a simultaneous menu, the menu bar, and a
hierarchy the menu bar and its pull-downs.

Functions of Menus

Navigation to a new Menu

Execute an action or procedure
Displaying Information
Data or parameter input

Content of Menus

Choice descriptions
Completion instructions

Formatting of Menus

o Provide consistency with the users expectations.
o Provide consistency in menu
Formatting, including organization, presentation, and
choice ordering.
Phrasing, including titles, choice descriptions, and
Choice selection methods.
Navigation schemes.
o If continual or frequent references to menu options are
necessary, permanently display the menu in an area of the
screen that will not obscure other screen data.
o If only occasional references to menu options are necessary, the
menu may be presented on demand.
Critical options should be continuously displayed, however.
o Provide a general or main menu.
o Display only relevant alternatives.
o Delete or gray-out inactive choices.
o Never require menus to be scrolled.

o Provide both simple and complex menus.

o Simple: a minimal set of actions and menus.
o Complex: a complete set of actions and menus.
o Order lists of choices by their natural order, or
For lists associated with numbers, use numeric order.
For textual lists with a small number of options (seven or
less), order by
Sequence of occurrence.
Frequency of occurrence.
Semantic similarity.
o Use alphabetic order for
Long lists (eight or more options).
Short lists with no obvious pattern or frequency.
o Create groupings of items that are logical, distinctive,
meaningful, and mutually exclusive.
o Categorize them in such a way as to
Maximize the similarity of items within a category.
Minimize the similarity of items across categories.
o Present no more than six or seven groupings on a screen.