Some speech-only systems, especially IVR (interactive voice response) systems, rely on menus as their main navigation tool. The design of these menus is therefore critical to the usability of the system.

Use Result-Action for Menus with More Than Two Options

In a menu with more than two options, describe the result first and then the specific action. For example:

“For a list of categories, say 1. For a list of people, say 2. To access your account status, say 3. To open a new account, say 4.”

rather than:

“Say 1 for a list of categories. Say 2 for a list of people. Say 3 to access your account status. Say 4 to open a new account.”

If you state the menu choice first, the user may forget which choice they want before hearing all the menu options.

Use Action-Result for Menus with Two Options

If there are only two options, place the action first, as in:

“Press 1 for yes, or 2 for no.”

Let the User Know When the Menu Is Complete

Cue the user that all the menu choices have been given. You can do this by telling them to select one—for example, “Make your selection now”—or by the inflection in the voice.

Order the Menu Appropriately

Place the most frequently-used options at the top of the menu hierarchy, both in terms of nesting as well as within a particular menu. If a menu item is temporarily unavailable or unavailable to that user, leave it off the menu.

Use Results as Feedback

The best feedback for a menu option is to present the results of the choice as shown in the dialog ...

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