Menu caption design

28 Jan 2004 - 10:39am
10 years ago
4 replies
477 reads
sandeepblues
2003

I have a map application, where a user can
add/modify/delete geometric zones. Zones have names
(A, B, C etc).

I am adding the Undo functionality, and need to decide
the right design for the Undo menu item, under Edit.

If I delete a zone, should the Edit->undo menu say:
"Undo Move Zone A" or just "Undo Move"

If I delete multiple zones, should the Undo menu say:
"Undo Move Zone A, Zone B, Zone C", or just "Undo
Move"?

Sandeep

Comments

28 Jan 2004 - 2:29pm
cfmdesigns
2004

Sandeep Jain <sandeepblues at yahoo.com> writes:

>I have a map application, where a user can
>add/modify/delete geometric zones. Zones have names
>(A, B, C etc).
>
>I am adding the Undo functionality, and need to decide
>the right design for the Undo menu item, under Edit.
>
>If I delete a zone, should the Edit->undo menu say:
>"Undo Move Zone A" or just "Undo Move"
>
>If I delete multiple zones, should the Undo menu say:
>"Undo Move Zone A, Zone B, Zone C", or just "Undo
>Move"?

Consider the various classes of actions and what they might produce:

* Are other actions undoable? If not, "Undo" alone is probably sufficient.

* Are things other than Zones movable? If not, "Undo Move" is
probably sufficient. If things other than Zones are also movable,
but the state, action, and result are highly similar, again "Undo
Move" is probably sufficient.

* Is it going to be vital that they know what zone is being unmoved?
Maybe use "Undo Zone Move" to indicate what sort of Move is being
undone without specifying to extreme detail.

* What is the worst case? If the multiple selection involved 20
zones, listing them all in the menu item makes for a very wide menu.
And it probably doesn't give much useful info. ("Hmm, this Undo will
unmove A B C F G I K N and Z. I could have sworn I had E and Y in
there, but not C." No one will need that level of info.) If you
need to differentiate, maybe "Undo Zone Move" and "Undo Multiple Zone
Move"

Jim Drew
Seattle, WA

29 Jan 2004 - 10:01am
sandeepblues
2003

Great. Now, I need to figure out how to argue this
with my engineering manager. I am an interaction
designer with no authority. Maybe, you can give some
advice as to what make good reasons for sticking with
the shorted version: "Undo Zone Move" and "Undo Zones
Move".

Addressing some of your questions:
- There are other actions that are undoable
- Only zones are moveable
- It is not vital to know which zone(s) will be
unmoved, esp. since one can view the effect and redo.

Here are the reasons that I can think of for sticking
closer to a short menu:

(a) Unnecessary visual clutter.
(b) Excessively large menu is visually unappealing
(c) Harder to read
(d) Somewhat unconventional

The engineers will fight bacK, saying that these are
minor reasons compared to the advantage of seeing more
relevant information.

Sandeep

--- Jim Drew <jdrew at adobe.com> wrote:
> Sandeep Jain <sandeepblues at yahoo.com> writes:
>
> >I have a map application, where a user can
> >add/modify/delete geometric zones. Zones have names
> >(A, B, C etc).
> >
> >I am adding the Undo functionality, and need to
> decide
> >the right design for the Undo menu item, under
> Edit.
> >
> >If I delete a zone, should the Edit->undo menu say:
> >"Undo Move Zone A" or just "Undo Move"
> >
> >If I delete multiple zones, should the Undo menu
> say:
> >"Undo Move Zone A, Zone B, Zone C", or just "Undo
> >Move"?
>
> Consider the various classes of actions and what
> they might produce:
>
> * Are other actions undoable? If not, "Undo" alone
> is probably sufficient.
>
> * Are things other than Zones movable? If not,
> "Undo Move" is
> probably sufficient. If things other than Zones are
> also movable,
> but the state, action, and result are highly
> similar, again "Undo
> Move" is probably sufficient.
>
> * Is it going to be vital that they know what zone
> is being unmoved?
> Maybe use "Undo Zone Move" to indicate what sort of
> Move is being
> undone without specifying to extreme detail.
>
> * What is the worst case? If the multiple selection
> involved 20
> zones, listing them all in the menu item makes for a
> very wide menu.
> And it probably doesn't give much useful info.
> ("Hmm, this Undo will
> unmove A B C F G I K N and Z. I could have sworn I
> had E and Y in
> there, but not C." No one will need that level of
> info.) If you
> need to differentiate, maybe "Undo Zone Move" and
> "Undo Multiple Zone
> Move"
>
>
> Jim Drew
> Seattle, WA
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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29 Jan 2004 - 10:33am
Coryndon Luxmoore
2004

You could also point out it requires additional software complexity to keep
track of all of the possible variables in the more detailed version and so a
more "generic" solution is probably simpler to develop. --CML

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Sandeep Jain
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2004 10:02 AM
To: Jim Drew; discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Menu caption design

Great. Now, I need to figure out how to argue this with my engineering
manager. I am an interaction designer with no authority. Maybe, you can
give some advice as to what make good reasons for sticking with the shorted
version: "Undo Zone Move" and "Undo Zones Move".

Addressing some of your questions:
- There are other actions that are undoable
- Only zones are moveable
- It is not vital to know which zone(s) will be unmoved, esp. since one can
view the effect and redo.

Here are the reasons that I can think of for sticking closer to a short
menu:

(a) Unnecessary visual clutter.
(b) Excessively large menu is visually unappealing
(c) Harder to read
(d) Somewhat unconventional

The engineers will fight bacK, saying that these are minor reasons compared
to the advantage of seeing more relevant information.

Sandeep

--- Jim Drew <jdrew at adobe.com> wrote:
> Sandeep Jain <sandeepblues at yahoo.com> writes:
>
> >I have a map application, where a user can add/modify/delete
> >geometric zones. Zones have names (A, B, C etc).
> >
> >I am adding the Undo functionality, and need to
> decide
> >the right design for the Undo menu item, under
> Edit.
> >
> >If I delete a zone, should the Edit->undo menu say:
> >"Undo Move Zone A" or just "Undo Move"
> >
> >If I delete multiple zones, should the Undo menu
> say:
> >"Undo Move Zone A, Zone B, Zone C", or just "Undo Move"?
>
> Consider the various classes of actions and what they might produce:
>
> * Are other actions undoable? If not, "Undo" alone is probably
> sufficient.
>
> * Are things other than Zones movable? If not, "Undo Move" is
> probably sufficient. If things other than Zones are also movable, but
> the state, action, and result are highly similar, again "Undo Move" is
> probably sufficient.
>
> * Is it going to be vital that they know what zone is being unmoved?
> Maybe use "Undo Zone Move" to indicate what sort of Move is being
> undone without specifying to extreme detail.
>
> * What is the worst case? If the multiple selection involved 20
> zones, listing them all in the menu item makes for a very wide menu.
> And it probably doesn't give much useful info.
> ("Hmm, this Undo will
> unmove A B C F G I K N and Z. I could have sworn I had E and Y in
> there, but not C." No one will need that level of
> info.) If you
> need to differentiate, maybe "Undo Zone Move" and "Undo Multiple Zone
> Move"
>
>
> Jim Drew
> Seattle, WA
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already) http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/

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to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
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Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
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29 Jan 2004 - 8:49pm
cfmdesigns
2004

Sandeep Jain <sandeepblues at yahoo.com> writes:

>Great. Now, I need to figure out how to argue this
>with my engineering manager. I am an interaction
>designer with no authority. Maybe, you can give some
>advice as to what make good reasons for sticking with
>the shorted version: "Undo Zone Move" and "Undo Zones
>Move".
>
>Addressing some of your questions:
>- There are other actions that are undoable
>- Only zones are moveable
>- It is not vital to know which zone(s) will be
>unmoved, esp. since one can view the effect and redo.
>
>
>Here are the reasons that I can think of for sticking
>closer to a short menu:
>
>(a) Unnecessary visual clutter.
>(b) Excessively large menu is visually unappealing
>(c) Harder to read
>(d) Somewhat unconventional
>
>The engineers will fight bacK, saying that these are
>minor reasons compared to the advantage of seeing more
>relevant information.

Think like an engineer.

Engineers like things which don't get in the way and which don't
cause extra work. They also like direct examples rather than
philosophical arguments. They are often not interested in "simple"
or "elegant"; their main goal is to get the task done.

* Given that other actions are Undoable, the current trend is to cue
the user and say what general action is being undone, rather than
just "Undo".

* Make the Undo item parallel the command it acts on. If the command
is "Move", then "Undo Move". If it is "Move Zone", then "Undo Zone
Move". (Note the nounification of the verb: action Move becomes a
noun, so the object Zone becomes an adjective. "Undo Move of Zone"
would be the other option; might be clearer, but more screen content.)

* Show screenshots of other apps, such as Photoshop, to demonstrate
industry standards.

* Mock up a screen shot of a possible but extreme case, a move of a
whole bunch of zones. Show them how ugly that is. Craft it cleverly
with many similarly named zones (if that's viable), so you can show
the screenshot and quiz them on the content while they look at it so
they can see that more info isn't better info. (Ask them how many
zones are being unmoved, and whether given zones are or are not in
the long list.)

Jim Drew
Seattle, WA

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