Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Flea Market of Functionality

The "tools" menu is a UI's junk drawer...

"Last Monday, I set out a simple brain teaser for the Word gurus out there. I listed a number of seemingly unrelated features in Word 2003 and asked the question "what do these have in common?"

John Topley got the answer I was looking for in the very first comment to Monday's post: all of the features I listed are on the Tools menu. Many of you also sent me the correct answer via e-mail.

The point I was trying to make is simply this: don't over-romanticize how ideal the current menu structure of Office is. Although any organization of disparate features is going to have strengths and weaknesses, there's nothing "magical" about File Edit View Insert Format Tools Table Help. I don't want to belabor the subject any further—if you want to read more about the relationship between familiarity and the classic menus, read last Monday's post.

Instead, I wanted to get to an interesting comment Ben R. made last Monday: is it inevitable that there's always going to need to be a "junk drawer" of leftover commands in an application and how is that handled in Office 12?

It caught my eye because "junk drawer" is a term we use as well. I think of a junk drawer as being features piled together primarily for the convenience of the UI designer. The Tools menu is a great example of a formalized junk drawer—an entire menu envisioned as a kind of flea market of functionality."   continued ...   (Via Jensen Harris)

Does your UI have a junk drawer?. - User Interface Design, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Ergonomics

Does your UI have a junk drawer?


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