Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I just clicked on the wrong thing in a windows menu for the gazillionth time. I'm beginning to think that there's something fundamentally flawed about this design. It's like how Donald A. Norman says in "The Design of Everyday Things" that people assume they're clumsy or technically inept, when really they're dealing with a poor design. I've assumed that I was just being clumsy in the way I used windows menus, but now I feel more & more sure that there is something wrong with them.

Hmm, what would I do to change them. What I'd like as a most basic step is to put some sort of physics at the boundary of menu items, that would keep them as clearly defined spaces, so it's harder to slip off the edge of the one you want. I would make them more adaptive, for instance by making items that you choose more often larger than rarely used items. I would make any nested windows be entered into by a more solid state transformation, so it didn't feel like balancing a house of cards. In general I think it could be useful to watch how long the cursor has been over a place-- if you just glance at a menu, it will quickly flitter away, but if you hover over it a while then it gets more attached to you and will take a second of ignoring to be ready to go away.

While we're on the subject, while aren't all menus customizable? Shouldn't I be able to put a new menu in any program called "SPLAT" and move over the "Save" and "Zoom" buttons, if I feel like it? Whose applications are these anyway? Don't answer that.



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