Develop System Menus and Navigation Schemes

A system contains large amounts of information and performs a variety of functions. Regardless of its purpose, the system must provide some means to tell people about the information it possesses or the things it can do. This is accomplished by displaying listings of the choices or alternatives the user has at appropriate points while using the system; or creating a string of listings that lead a person from a series of general descriptors through increasingly specific categories on following listings until the lowest level listing is reached. This lowest level listing provides the desired choices. These listings of choices are commonly called menus. Menus are a major form of navigation through a system and, if properly designed, assist the user in developing a mental model of the system. In this step, the following menu topics will be addressed:

  • The structures of menus.
  • The functions of menus.
  • The content of menus.
  • Formatting menus.
  • Writing menus.
  • Navigation using menus.
  • Web site navigation and links.
  • Web site navigation elements.
  • Maintaining a sense of place in Web sites.
  • Types of menus.

Menus are effective because they utilize the more powerful human capability of recognition rather than the weaker capability of recall. Working with menus reminds people of available options and information that they may not be aware of or have forgotten.

Menus are not without problems, however. New and inexperienced system users might find ...

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