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1.4.3. Content Organisation

" Meaningful grouping and sequencing of menu items, along with careful editing of titles and labels and appropriate layout design, can lead to easier-to-learn menus and increased selection speed." (Shneiderman et al. 2005, p. 286)

Task-Related Grouping

Grouping objects with similar functions together in one spot can make a page feel more consistent.

Since computer-menu problems include overlapping categories, extraneous items, conflicting classifications in the same menu, unfamiliar jargon, and generic terms, grouping menu items is sometimes difficult (Shneiderman et al. 2005).

(2005, p. 286-287) suggests several rules for menu item organisation:

  • Create groups of logically similar items.
GUI is        divided into functional groupsGUI is divided into functional groups For        example the navigation elements build one groupFor example the navigation elements build one group
  • Form groups that cover all possibilities: For example, a menu with age ranges 0-9, 10-19, 20-29, and >30 makes it easy for the user to select an item.

    Time Line contains all        values from the time before Christ until today.Time Line contains all values from the time before Christ until today.
  • Make sure that items are non-overlapping. An example for overlapping categories is "Entertainment" and "Events"; one for non-overlapping categories is "Concerts" and "Sports"
Themes that are not overlappingThemes that are not overlapping (Atlas of Switzerland 2004) Items        that are not overlappingItems that are not overlapping
  • Use familiar terminology, but ensure that items are distinct from one another. Generic terms such as "Day" and "Night" may be too vague; more specific options such as "6.00-18.00" and "18.00-6.00" may be more useful and precise.

Item Presentation Sequence

Once the items in a menu have been chosen, the designer is still confronted with the choice of presentation sequence. If the items have a natural sequence - such as days of the week, chapters in a book - then the decision is trivial. Typical bases for sequencing items according to (2005, p. 286-287) are:

  • Time (chronological ordering)
  • Numeric Order (ascending or descending ordering)
  • Physical properties (increasing or decreasing lenght, area, temperature and so on)
Order        acoording to temporal propertiesOrder acoording to temporal properties Numeric        OrderNumeric Order Order        acoording to physical propertiesOrder acoording to physical properties

Many cases have no task-related ordering and the designer must choose from such possibilities as these (Shneiderman et al. 2005, p. 286-287):

  • Alphabetic sequence terms
  • Grouping of related items
  • Most frequently used items first
  • Most important items first
Alphabetic OrderAlphabetic Order Grouping of related itemsGrouping of related items Most important items firstMost important items first
Most      frequently items firstMost frequently items firstremark

We presented you all examples with selection lists. Needless to say, that the sequence which is chosen for the item presentation applies not only to selection lists but also to all other cases where the ordering of items is necessary.

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